Poquoson dominated the second half of its 21-7 win over Grafton so thoroughly that by the end the matchup appeared almost one-sided. It's a result that obscures the fact that the Clippers could've taken control or at least remained close were it not for mistakes that would haunt them throughout the game.
Correcting those mistakes will be the Clippers focus as they attempt to get back on track for a hoped-for return to the Division 4 playoffs, when they host New Kent on Saturday at Bailey Field.
The big mistake came in the second quarter, with the Clippers nursing a 7-0 lead. Quarterback Robbie Hiser called an audible, which appeared to pay off in a 42-yard touchdown pass to Cole Swartwood.
But a Clipper lineman misheard Hiser's call and ran up field to block for a run. He was ruled ineligibly downfield and the 5-yard penalty nullified the score.
Shortly after the Islanders tied the score at 7-all in the third quarter, a Grafton player tried to advance a muffed punt, which by rule he couldn't do, instead of falling on it near midfield. In his haste, he pushed the ball forward to an Islander, Poquoson retained possession and scored the go-ahead touchdown three plays later.
Penalties, poor snaps in the shotgun and dropped passes contributed to the Clippers inability to move the ball with consistency. The run defense also struggled, allowing 210 yards.
"We have to execute better in all three phases of the game," Clippers coach Jared Van Acker. "At the end of the day we've got eight games to get better.
"We're ready to move forward."
Look for the York-Tabb rivalry to get back to the kind of football that put the series back on the map as one of the Bay Rivers District's best with dramatic finishes in 2008 and '09. A repeat of the brawl that marred last year's game isn't likely.
"I think you're going to see a lot of spirit and good sportsmanship," York principal Antonia Fox said.
York coach Doug Pereira said, "I don't think there's any animosity between the Tabb and York kids, so I don't think you'll see anything like that happen.
"We do preach that this is a rivalry and a vital game. We'd be foolish to think that Tabb isn't going to be ready to play."
Tabb (0-2, 0-1 district) will enter as the underdog against York (2-0, 1-0), which is averaging better than 52 points a game. But York won as an underdog two years ago, overcoming a 28-point deficit late in the third quarter behind current Richmond receiver Ben Edwards' seven touchdowns to win 49-48 in triple overtime. The Falcons won 38-34 on a last-second Edwards touchdown run in 2009, then won 27-14 a year ago.
Tabb's Andrew Junio leads the district in rushing after two games with 265 yards. … York's Alex Johnston has passed for 382 yards and six touchdowns, in addition to running for four TDs. … Jamestown's Rodney Smith has a district highs of 12 catches for 218 yards. … Lafayette's Thomas Smith leads the district with 42 points on seven touchdowns.