Three weeks back, the James River (Buchanan) Knights, came to the Alleghany Highlands and defeated the Covington Cougars 34-32 in a closely contested game.
Last night, the Knights were back in the Alleghany Highlands and it was much of the same as the team shutout the Alleghany Mountaineers, 29-0 in a Three Rivers District meeting.
The Knights came into the game the more loose team as they had their game last week against Glenvar be rescheduled, while the Mountaineers were coming off of a 36 point loss to the Radford Bobcats, 42-6.
But, if you read last weeks story from the Mountaineers game against the Bobcats, you know that I went on about how you need to dive into a story or an article before coming to a conclusion just based on the stories title or the articles title.
Well, that can be said once again about last nights game.
It wasn’t that the team had one or two plays that could of changed the course of the game, but it was the teams drive to not quit despite being down by a lot of points.
Yes, the scoreboard did read, Knights 29, Mountaineers 0.
And it’s easy to think that the Mountaineers were blown out, which they were. However, the team played with a lot of toughness throughout the game. As mentioned above, it was their drive to not give up that showed their heart and toughness that they left out their on the football field last night.
Despite the Knights grabbing nine plays of 10+ yards and 338 total yards, the Mountaineers defense tried to help keep its team in the game as the offense struggled throughout the game.
The struggle for the Mountaineers offense could be heard throughout the home bleachers.
For the game, the Mountaineers offense alone, the team finished with 58 yards.
The team struggled to move the football down the field as the Mountaineers only had a total of three first downs, the first one coming in the second quarter.
The offense had three turnovers in the game, all coming on interceptions. Kole Caldwell threw two interceptions while Eli Entsminger threw one that came on his only pass in the game.
The Mountaineers defense did force one turnover that came while the Knights were on the goal line in the first quarter. The team did not have a forced turnover against the Bobcats last week.
Seeing some time at the quarterback position was Wyatt Campbell. Campbell finished 1-for-3 and 6 yards passing. Cadwell finished 6-for-11 for 35 yards passing.
Let’s recap the game.
The Knights offense got the football to start the game off and were quickly sent back to the bench as they went three-and-out.
The Mountaineers needed a defensive stop like that to motivate themselves following their loss last week to the Bobcats who score on their first five drives of the game.
However, the second drive for the defense was not the same result.
After the Mountaineers had a big stop on defense, the offense went three-and-out just like the Knights and were forced to punt.
The Knights used advantage of good field position on the punt at their own 47 yard line.
Seven plays, 53 yards later, the Knights were the first ones on the scoreboard with a 20 yard rushing touchdown. The Knights missed the extra point which kept the game a touchdown score of 6-0.
Needing a score to keep the teams spirits up, Garrett Via returned the kickoff 34 yard and sets the Mountaineers up nicely at their own 49 yard line.
Unfortunately, that was the only highlight from the drive as the Mountaineers hurt themselves with two delay of game penalties.
After being sacked, Caldwell felt another rush from the Knights defense and was intercepted by Tanner Dillow at midfield and returned the interception 27 yards.
After a few plays that brought the Knight into the redzone and goal line, the Mountaineers knocked the ball lose from quarterback Zeal Hammon and were able to recover the fumble.
You look at the Mountaineers defense in the first quarter and you look at the final score, you may not believe that their defense kept them in the game. And I don’t want to harp on it, but that’s when you dive into the story to see how it all played out.
Despite the one touchdown, it was a great first quarter for the Mountaineers defense as they forced the Knights to a three-and-out and a forced fumble on the goal line.
The only problem for the Mountaineers with the fumble recovery, the team had the ball on their own two yard line.
After their first play went for no gain, the team was stuffed in the endzone. The Knights were awarded two points for the safety to take an 8-0 lead.
You would think after giving up the safety, the hands would come down for the Mountaineers players, but they did not. The teams toughness and heart showed following the safety.
The Knights got a big 20 yard return that negated for 10 yards due to an illegal block in the backfield. Instead of first down on the Mountaineers 37 yard line, the team started on the 47 yard line.
The Mountaineers defense would stop the Knights and force them to their second three-and-out of the game.
With the defense doing their part, it was time for the offense to come together, however the Mountaineers were only able to get two yards on the drive along with a penalty for offsides and the team was forced to punt.
Three plays later, the Knights grabbed a 27 yard touchdown pass from Hammon. The extra point was good and gave the Knights a 15-0 lead.
After another three-and-out for the Mountaineers offense, the defense stopped the Knights on fourth down and forced them to turn the ball over on downs.
With less than a minute left in the half, the Mountaineers got a big third down rush from Dalton Griffith for 27 yards as he brought the ball close to midfield. The first down on the play was the teams first of the half.
As the time was not in their favor, Caldwell dropped back and was intercepted down the field by Jake Benson.
Three weeks ago, the Knights let a double digit second half lead against the Cougars evaporate to only two points by the fourth quarter and nearly lost the game. With a 15-0 lead at the start of the second half the Knights did not want the same to happen as they surprised the Mountaineers with an onside kick which was recovered by the Knights.
But as great as a play and decision it was by Knights head coach, Tim Jennings, the offense went three-and-out as the Mountaineer defense did its job holding the offense.
It was all for not though as the offense only could manage eight yards total on their next drive, despite a first down on the drive and were forced to punt once more.
Despite the numerous opportunities the Knights gave the Mountaineers, the team made sure they took care of their opportunity and used four plays good for 65 yards to get back on the scoreboard. The touchdown coming on an Conner Church touchdown run from 54 yards out.
The touchdown from Church of 54 yards was the longest play of the game.
With a 22 point lead, the Knights were feeling comfortable they had this game in the bag.
After forcing the Mountaineers to turn the ball over on downs on their next drive, the Knights grabbed their last touchdown of the game coming on a Colin Cook five yard rushing touchdown on first and goal. The made extra point gave the Knights a 29-0 lead.
The drive was highlighted by a 19 completed pass from Hammon to Dillow that help set up the first and goal.
Last week, the Mountaineers lone score came in the fourth quarter (touchdown pass from Entsminger) with the team trailing 42-0.
Now trailing 29-0 in the fourth quarter last night, the Mountaineers wanted some sort boost to head into next weeks games.
It did not come though. On the teams final three drives on offense, the team had negative two yards of offense. The final possession of offense ended with an interception thrown by Entsminger.
The Knights offense took over following the interception and kneeled down to run the clock out to end the game.
The loss for the Mountaineers was the teams fourth in a row and dropped the team to 1-4 overall and 0-2 in the Three Rivers District.
For the Knights (3-1) it was the teams third win in just its fourth game of the season.
Hammon, went 9-for-12 with 141 yards and two touchdown (one passing, one rushing) against the Cougars three weeks ago, finished 7-for-16 with 94 yards and one touchdown (pass) against the Mountaineers.
Church finished the game with 147 yards rushing and one touchdown along with one reception for 23 yards against the Mountaineers last night. Against the Cougars, Church had two touchdowns.
Next week will be a busy week for the Mountaineers as they have two home games on the schedule.
The team will need to quickly put this one behind them as the team has a quick turnaround with a Tuesday night home game against the Staunton River Golden Eagles (2-2). The game was originally scheduled for September 24.
The Golden Eagles are coming off a last night to Franklin County, 21-10.
Then on Friday, October 15, the team hosts the Glenvar Highlanders. The Highlanders are coming off of a 54-0 Three Rivers District victory over Floyd County last night.
JRH 6 9 14 0 29
AHS 0 0 0 0 0
James River Statistics
Points – 29
Pass. Yds – 94
Rush. Yds – 223
Receiving – 94
KR Yds – 20
PR Yds – 36
Total Yards – 338
1st Downs – 10
Flags – 5
Turnovers – 1
Points – 0
Pass. Yds – 41
Rush. Yds – 41
Receiving – 41
KR Yds – 55
PR Yds – 12
Total Yards – 115
1st Downs – 3
Flags – 5
Turnovers – 3