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That’s more like it.
Jefferson Forest got on the winning track with a stomach-churning, 27-26 win over Turner Ashby.
The Cavs played a solid, full game of football, building up a big lead before hanging on for the win.
Three key plays factored into the wild finish.
Jones, Jones, Jones
This one was keyed by quarterback Marcus Jones.
The junior put on a breakout performance as he rambled for
238 yards, quarterbacking out of the Pistol. That formation, by the way, is a modified Shotgun, with the quarterback up closer to center and a back behind him.
Jones set the pace when he bolted 75 yards to paydirt on his second snap from center on a busted play.
“He makes plays nobody else can,” marvelled JF offensive coordinator Mike Watts.
Dylan Sims nailed a 32-yard field goal to give JF a 10-0 lead.
The Cavs would extend that lead to 17-0 when Jones capped a seven-play drive with a 17-yard touchdown run off tackle.
It seemed the teams would head to halftime with that score intact. Turner Ashby, though, had other thoughts.
The Knights went to the no-huddle and quickly found paydirt. Halftime score: 17-7.
“We felt pretty good about that,” said Watts of the first halftime lead the Cavs have held this season.
They felt even better as the second half opened. Aaron Bannister, the guy who sets up behind Jones in the Pistol, took a dish from his QB and dashed 17 yards for the 24-7 lead.
TA, however, realizing that it would have no success on the ground, went nearly exclusively to the air. In fact, the Knights ran the ball but six times in the entire second half.
They found success, scoring in the middle of the third quarter and at the start of the fourth.
This is where the first key incident came into play. Following that third touchdown, Cav Alex Cox broke through the TA line to get a big mitt on the PAT attempt. That denial left the score 24-20.
The second key came into play when Sims nailed a tough field goal attempt off the right hash mark. The angle on the 21-yard attempt was overcome by the junior booter, to give JF a 27-20 lead.
The Knights went right back to work. In a 10-play drive that featured only passing, TA drove for the score with 1:02 remaining in the game.
Opting to go for two points and the win, the Knights set up out of the power-I.
A pulling guard hit the quarterback, who was then wrapped up by big Michael Yost of JF.
A desperation heave went for naught, as Bailey Corell grabbed it out of the air.
The Knights’ on-side kick attempt was safely recovered by Cav Travis Royer to put away the win.
After Forest opened its season with road losses to Northside and Staunton River, many started to ask what was wrong with the Cavaliers.
When JF was mauled by Bassett two weeks ago, some started predicting an 0-10 season for the team.
Well, naysayers take note.
The Cavs look to be back in business.
The team played E.C. Glass in solid fashion before falling to the (now) 4-2 Hilltoppers.
Now, the team turned in a strong performance against the Knights to notch that first win.
“I think it’s good for our kids,” said Watts. “As hard as they’ve worked, they deserve it. And they earned it.”
In addition to Jones’s 238 rushing yards, he added 27 yards on a pair of passes.
Give big credit to the offensive line for making things click.
Center Sam Shaulis, guards Dakota Abbott and Alex Bennett, tackles Jeremy Hughes and Dalton King and tight ends Ryan Gingrich and Dro Herrera were all instrumental in keeping the Cav offense humming.
Sure, Jones is the guy with the gaudy numbers. But his line can take credit for making those numbers a reality.
On defense, Mikey Wallman led the way with 11 tackles. Corell, playing at free safety, came up with nine tackles for the night.
Tre Ward was the man who put himself in the right places. He recovered a pair of fumbles, including one that ended a 15-play TA drive. That one concluded with Ward clutching the ball on his own three yard line.
Forest heads to Rustburg on Friday, in a quest to earn its second win of the season.
In recent years, the Cavs have had success against the Red Devils (see chart). This year, however, things could easily be different.
Led by Craig Paulhus, who might be the best quarterback in the district, the Rusties also have a solid defense.
Under second-year coach Jon Berlin, the program is on the rise.
Whoever takes this one will have its first Seminole win of the season. JF still has playoff aspirations, as does Rustburg (2-4).
Realistically, the 1-4 Cavs have to get to 5-5 to have a shot in Div. 4.
Rustburg likely needs to get to 5-5 in Div. 3.
A must-win game for both teams? You bet.