The 10-game non-district slate for Bay Rivers District football teams produced several close games, but not one that could be singled out as memorable. Facing one another for the first time this season, Bay Rivers schools more than made up for that lack of excitement with a Friday not soon to be forgotten.
Two games went down the to the final 30 seconds, while perhaps the most entertaining of the lot — Tabb's 41-35 win over rival Poquoson — wasn't settled until the final minute. Opening night of district play also featured some great individual performances, highlighted by Devonte Dedmon's 284 yards rushing and five touchdowns in Warhill's 34-28 upset of Smithfield.
New Kent wins for Lee
Morale at New Kent wasn't high in the wake of the 49-8 season-opening loss to King William. Turnovers and multiple injuries — including leading rusher Trey Lee's broken leg — contributed to the gloom.
"It wasn't a particularly great week," New Kent coach Dan Rounds admitted.
But instead of ignoring the funk, Rounds says he talked to his players about ways to overcome it. One way that seemed to help was contacting Lee via Skype before Friday's game to bring his team together.
The Trojans then went out and upset York 11-8 for their first win since late in the 2011 season. The defense played its best game in nearly two years, while Mikel Chalmers filled in nicely at running back with 88 yards rushing, including a 12-yard touchdown.
Sawyer Rountree won the game with a 31-yard field goal from the left hashmark with 30 seconds remaining. One Trojans assistant said there was tension about the kick because Rountree is usually at his best when asked to kick in a straight line, but his kick split the uprights.
"Last week was our 'Friday the 13th,'" Rounds said of the King William game. "I told the kids if they could deal with that adversity they could play though anything.
"I'm so proud of our guys for the way they played with emotion and kept up the fight."
Dedmon leads Warhill
Smithfield coach Clark Harrell said the game with Warhill was "A great one to watch. You couldn't go to a better game." Harrell and the Packers had a fine Best Supporting Actor nominee in freshman running back Donald King (184 yards rushing, four touchdowns), but the starring role was clearly Dedmon's.
"We couldn't stop him," Harrell said. "He's more physically developed and a better player than he was last year."
It had to be bad enough that the Packers had "no answer" in Harrell's words in stopping Dedmon on the run. But it was Dedmon's 25-yard reception on fourth-and-15 — essentially a one-handed leaping grab as he snatched the ball off of his shoulder pad while falling backward to the ground under blanket double-coverage — that kept the winning drive alive.
Dedmon scored his fifth touchdown from the 1 with 22.7 seconds left to give the Lions a 34-28 lead, but the Packers almost won anyway. Bruce Cypress nearly ran the kickoff back for a touchdown. Two plays later, with Smithfield at the Warhill 18, Devin Williams' pass into the end zone that would've tied the contest with no time remaining barely eluded Cypress' grasp.
The win is the first for new Warhill coach Obie Boykin, who praised offensive linemen Tyler Zminkowski, Karson Dellert, Alex Faber, Terrell Blocker, Bryce Johnston and Dalton Durant for holding their blocks long enough to spring Dedmon.
"I'm so happy," Dedmon said of his career high 284 yards rushing. "I've always heard that Smithfield's defense is unstoppable, but I had a lot of faith in our line."
Hinson, Hunter shine for Tabb
Add Tabb junior Brent Hinson to the list of district players who had big nights after he rushed for 195 yards on 22 carries in the Tigers' 41-35 win over Poquoson. After rushing for more than 1,000 yards as a sophomore, Hinson was expected to star for the Tigers this year. Ditto for Antwuan Hicks, who had five receptions for 122 yards.
Sophomore quarterback Nicholas Hunter had a breakthrough game for the Tigers, throwing for 198 yards and two touchdowns in his second start. Hunter completed a 52-yard touchdown pass to Hicks and had a 28-yard touchdown pass to Hinson on a screen.
"We're excited about that part of our game," Lawson said of the run-oriented Tigers' big passing night. "The difference in our passing game this year is that we have guys who can catch the ball, and Nick did a good job getting it to them."
After a scoreless first quarter, the teams combined for 76 points and most of the 731 total yards over the final three quarters. Poquoson rallied to tie the game four times.
"It was like a heavyweight fight," said Poquoson coach Elliott Duty, whose team, trailing 35-28, missed a fifth chance to tie the game in the final three minutes, when they fumbled inside the Tabb 25. "Tabb just made a few more plays than we did."
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