The Gridiron Blog brings you the scores, stats and stories from Fredericksburg-area high school football.
Full Report: Essex/Washington & Lee
BY JUSTIN RICE
TAPPAHANNOCK—There was no legendary halftime speech or even an exorbitant amount of yelling in the Washington & Lee locker room during the break last night at Essex.
Eagles coach Malcolm Lewis calmly told his players they’d get back to the style of football they’d played all year, and that would be enough.
Washington & Lee used a dominating second-half performance to rally from a 10–7 deficit, and the Eagles broke a seven-game losing streak to the Trojans with a 28–10 Northern Neck District win last night.
The victory secured the district’s regular-season title for W&L (8–1, 4–0), and the Eagles are already ensured a high seed—and at least one home game—in the Division 2 Eastern Section playoffs.
Washington & Lee closes the regular season on Friday at home against Colonial Beach.
The Eagles—who had 15 total yards and one first down in the first half last night—had 143 rushing yards and 12 second-half first downs, and scored touchdowns on three of four possessions.
“[Lewis] was calm [at the half],” said W&L running back Marquis James, who had minus-1 rushing yards at the break, but finished with a game-high 104. “But he knew what we were capable of doing. He got our heads focused and got us back into the game.”
Washington & Lee had lost five straight regular-season games against its rivals, and two other playoff meetings. The Eagles’ last win in the series was in 2005.
And at halftime, it looked like Essex (2–7, 0–4) had shot at extending that misery.
A first-quarter interception by W&L’s Duane Cherry had set up Josh Fones’ 13-yard scoring pass to Grady Boswell for a 7–0 Washington & Lee lead early in the second quarter. But Essex answered, first with a 30-yard field goal by Brock Williams, and then a 30-yard strike from Dominek Broaddus to Deondre Baylor with 26 seconds remaining in the half.
“It was kind of sluggish,” James said. “Everybody was moving slow.”
The Eagles looked like a new team after the break.
James carried five times on a 13-play, 81-yard drive to open the third quarter, capped when Kwame Gray scored on a nice 21-yard run to put W&L back on top.
Gray then intercepted a pass on the Trojans’ ensuing possession and returned it 32 yards to give the Eagles a first down at the Essex 35. Four plays later—including 15- and 11-yard runs from James —Fones pushed over the goal line from a yard out to extend W&L’s advantage.
Fones added a 21-yard touchdown strike to Otho Gaskins early in the fourth quarter. Fones hit 8 of 9 second-half passes and finished 10 of 13 for 116 yards.
“I was very worried at the half,” Lewis said. “It was crucial that we come out and re-establish ourselves.
“We just went back in there and said, ‘We’ve got to play W&L football.’
“I kind of explained to them, what a great memory you’ll remember when you were down 10–7 at Essex and you came out and played the half of your life. And they arrived right on cue.”
W & L 0 7 14 7 — 28
Essex 0 10 0 0 — 10
WL-G. Boswell 30-yard pass from J. Fones (M. Trau kick)
Es-B. Williams 30-yard field goal
Es-D. Baylor 30-yard pass from D. Broaddus (B. Williams kick)
WL-K. Gray 21-yard run (M. Trau kick)
WL-J. Fones 1-yard run (M. Trau kick)
WL-O. Gaskins 21-yard pass from J. Fones (M. Trau kick)
First downs13 8
Rushing yardage37-111 24-84
Passing yardage115 111
Rushing: Essex—LeVonte Bundy 11-74; Dominek Broaddus 10-23; James Green 1-5; Deondre Baylor 1-(-5); team 1-(-13). Washington & Lee—Marquis James 22-104; Kwame Gray 4-33, TD; Josh Fones 10-(-4), TD; Team 1-(-22).
Passing: Essex—Dominek Broaddus 6-21-2 111, TD; Brock Williams 0-2-0 0. Washington & Lee—Josh Fones 10-13-0 115, 2TD.
Receiving: Essex—Adarius Booker 2-47; Jamal Layne 1-46; Deondre Baylor 3-18, TD. Washington & Lee—Chris Henry 1-34; Otho Gaskins 2-32, TD; D.A. Wilson 4-25; Grady Boswell 2-19, TD; Jerome Saunders 1-2.
Justin Rice: 540/368-5045