Photos by Rob’s DigiPix
Story by Josh Mathews, Soren Rutherford and Joe Short
Dale 46, Dinwiddie 44
They say that lightning doesn’t strike in the same place twice. That might be right, but when it comes to catching game-winning touchdowns, Thomas Dale High running back DeAngelo Gray might be the exception. After catching a tipped pass on a Hail Mary for a score, Gray struck again, catching a 44-yard touchdown pass from Jasiah Williams with 38 seconds left as the Warriors defeated Dinwiddie in a shootout.
The win was particularly important, as it guarantees TDHS a first round home game in the Region 6A playoffs. They’ll host Grassfield (Chesapeake) at Ed Karpus Field at 7 p.m. Friday.
The pass was set up by Williams’ run, where he juked around multiple defenders on a quarterback keeper. Before that, Thomas Dale’s defense forced Dinwiddie into a three-and-out to get the offense back on the field.
From the beginning, the game was exciting. The two teams raced to 62 first-half points as the Knights held a 34-28 advantage at the break.
Dinwiddie running back Robert Barlow Jr., who ran for 309 yards and five touchdowns, drew first blood. He was quickly answered by Chris Tyree’s 7-yard touchdown pass from Williams.
Williams came up with another huge play moments later. Dinwiddie had made its way to Thomas Dale territory near the end zone and set themselves up for a field goal, but it was blocked and returned by Williams 88 yards for a score. The Generals answered back with another Barlow touchdown, making it 14-14.
The teams continued to trade punches, including three touchdowns in the last 45 seconds of the first half.
After a surprisingly scoreless third quarter, things got going again and didn’t slow up.
In the fourth quarter, the Generals completely took over the landscape of the game with Barlow punching in two more touchdowns. After forcing back-to-back three-and-outs on defense, Dinwiddie scored on a 30-yard field goal by Justin Davis. The Generals led 44-34.
A touchdown run by Knights running back Jordan Branch was called back, but Williams ran the ball in on the next play to make it 44-40. Then Williams connected with Gray for the game-winner.
Dinwiddie missed a field goal at the end of regulation that would have won it.
Williams, a University of Richmond signee, put forth a Herculean effort on the night by completing 12 of 23 passes for 249 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran for 90 yards and scored two rushing touchdowns, and with his TD on the blocked field goal, he had a hand in all seven of Thomas Dale’s touchdowns. In addition to Tyree’s scoring catch, Antonio Goins also hauled in a TD pass.
“He doesn’t come off the field,” Thomas Dale football coach Kevin Tucker said of Williams. “He plays every down.”
The Knights have overcome their share of challenges this year, including a lingering ankle sprain to Tyree that caused him to miss significant time. Other injuries and illnesses have stacked up as well, but Tyree, along with the rest of the roster, is looking healthy for a potential playoff run.
“We’re finally getting healthy,” Tucker said. “Hopefully we get a little bit more healthy this week and it will continue to help us win games.”
L.C. Bird 14, James River 7
After falling behind early, L.C. Bird High’s defense was the difference maker last week. An interception return for a touchdown by Shaun Allen in the third quarter was the difference as the Skyhawks leveled their record at 5-5.
“We are very proud of how the team overcame adversity this season,” Bird football coach Troy Taylor said. “Our seniors made some big plays tonight: Allen’s ‘pick 6’ and a touchdown pass from Quentin Elliott to Elijah Rivers.”
James River started off the game with a surprise onside kick, which they recovered, and then scored on the next play, a misdirection-based reverse handed off to Syncere Tann that went for 47 yards. The extra point gave the Rapids an early 7-0 advantage.
In the second quarter, Elliott found Rivers on the left side deep in the back of the end zone for a 30-yard score. After the Rapids blocked the extra-point attempt, the score was 7-6.
That set the stage for Allen to make a move. He jumped in front of a short pass to intercept it, and return the pigskin 15 yards for the score. Running back K.B. Miles scored on a two-point conversion to make it 14-7, and that score held.
The 5-5 mark ended Bird’s 29-year streak of winning seasons. That may be surprising to those who follow local football, but the cyclical nature of ups and downs has occurred at the school before. There have been stretches before where the Skyhawks missed the playoffs. From 1996-98, the program averaged seven wins per season. The program’s last losing season was in 1988.
Star running back Ramon Brown was sidelined for the remainder of the season after sustaining an injury against George Wythe in week four.
Several of the 17 seniors should go on to play football at the next level, including Chris Barfield and Tyson Pledger .
Hopewell 28, Matoaca 21
Matoaca played its season finale on Friday, falling to the undefeated Hopewell Blue Devils. The loss eliminated the Warriors from playoff contention.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Hopewell led 28-6. Matoaca mounted a 15-point comeback, but it fell short.
Senior quarterback Marcus Dreher finished with a flourish in his final high school game, putting up an impressive statline. He completed 25 of 40 pass attempts for 255 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 18 yards.
Hopewell’s defense held strong against Matoaca’s typically potent running offense, containing Dreher, Daquan Vann, and Ricarlos Taylor to 47 total yards.
Wideouts Troy Lewis and Devin Bailey both scored touchdowns. Lewis scored on a 40-yard reception in the first half on his way to a 96-yard night. Bailey totaled 42 yards and scored his touchdown during the Warriors’ fourth-quarter rally.
Defensively, Brayden Spade and Juleon Pointer combined for 14 total tackles, and Pointer had a tackle for loss.
Overall, Matoaca’s improvement was noted. After going 3-7 last year, the Warriors finished 5-5 this season. Three of the losses came down to the last possession of the game.
Against Dinwiddie, the Warriors had a chance to win, but a pass fell incomplete in the end zone. Thomas Dale caught a tipped pass on a “Hail Mary” to beat them, and Petersburg won on their closing drive as well.
“We improved tremendously since last year. All phases of the game have gotten better for us,” said Parker. “The team is playing for one another and representing their school and community.”
Prince George 41, Meadowbrook 6
Playoff-bound Prince George spoiled Meadowbrook’s senior night.
Lloyd Worsham scored on a 12-yard run in the third quarter for the Monarchs, who finish 0-10 and now have lost 21 straight games.
A roster depleted due to transfers has hobbled coach Chamont Thompson’s best efforts to build a winner.