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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Behind Byrd, Bears 3–0

When Riverbend senior Eric Byrd was a sophomore, he saw lots of varsity action in the Bears’ miserable 2–8 season and 0–6 start.

Last year it was a little better—the Bears finished 5–5.

Friday, Riverbend pulled away from King George 42–17 for just its second 3–0 start in school history, and Byrd is a big part of that.

“It’s just awesome. Senior year, to be 3–0?” said Byrd, who threw three touchdown passes against the Foxes and finished with 272 passing yards. “No, it’s not against the Commonwealth District yet, but we’re going to compete this year 3–0 is huge for us.”

It was like the Foxes dared Byrd to beat them, especially at the game’s outset.

Riverbend running back Zach Sims had an area-best 327 rushing yards before last night’s game, and King George loaded up to stop the junior. He had just six yards on his first nine carries.

But Byrd made them pay.

He connected on 5 of his 6 passes—the lone miss was batted down at the line—and Riverbend built a 14–0 lead.

And on the Bears’ first possession of the second half, Byrd threw a bubble screen to Chris Pritchett, who took it in for a 62-yard touchdown and a 21–7 lead.

“We give Sims the ball a lot,” Pritchett said. “I think they kind of assumed we’d do it again. We even practiced throwing the ball a lot this week. We were ready for it.”

King George, which was also seeking a 3–0 start, had an answer.

Using the single-wing offense the Foxes have employed this season as a change of pace, Jacoby White answered Pritchett’s score with a 54-yard run, and then a 10-yarder into the end zone to cut the Bears’ advantage to 21–14.

And after a defensive stand, King George had the ball again at the Riverbend 22.

But a key penalty on a second-down run sabotaged the drive.

Riverbend answered with Sims, who started to find his stride in the second half.

He carried the ball on four straight plays, and swept around the right side on second-and-5 for a 63-yard touchdown run. Sims finished with 125 yards on 20 carries.

Byrd provided the clincher after a King George field goal.

He hit Conner Booren for a 34-yard touchdown, Booren’s second score of the night. He had 110 receiving yards on five catches; Pritchett had 135 on four receptions.

“They were fundamentally sound and a good team,” King George coach Jeff Smith said. “The deep ball killed us. [Byrd is] a very, very good quarterback. He put it where he needed to.”

It was the first loss for the Foxes (2–1) at their new stadium, which opened early last season. They’ll try to regroup next week with a home game against Louisa.

And Riverbend will strive for 4–0, with a home game against winless Orange.

“This team is a special team,” Riverbend coach Tony DeMarco said. “I’m not saying we’re there, or we’re great. But it’s a great team to coach. They fight and they care about each other.”

 

Riverbend    7    7    14    14   —   42
King George 0 7 7 3 17

First Quarter

Rb-C. Booren 3-yard pass from E. Byrd (L. DaSilva kick)

Second Quarter

Rb-Z. Sims 8-yard run (L. DaSilva kick)

KG-J. Estes 13-yard pass from C. Henderson (J. Perkins kick)

Third Quarter

Rb-J. Pritchett 62-yard pass from E. Byrd (L. DaSilva kick)

KG-J. White 11-yard run (J. Perkins kick)

Rb-Z. Sims 63-yard run (L. DaSilva kick)

Fourth Quarter

KG-J. Perkins 29-yard field goal

Rb-C. Booren 34-yard pass from E. Byrd (L. DaSilva kick)

Rb-T. Robles 4-yard run (L. DaSilva kick)

TEAM STATISTICS

  Rb KG
First Downs 16 11
Rushing yardage 39-214 31-170
Passing yardage 272 74
Passes 11-19-1 9-20-0
Punts-Ave. 4-34.5 4-42.3
Fumble-lost 2-0 1-0
Penalties 13-143 7-55

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing: King George—Jacoby White 15-126, TD; Markiece Johnson 3-24; Jordi Estes 5-12; Kendall Harvey 1-8; Corey Henderson 3-3; Zach Johnson 3-0; Jaylen Brinson 1-(-3). Riverbend—Zach Sims 20-125, 2TD; Tito Robles 6-43, TD; C.J. Washington 4-36; Tristen Burnett 1-6; Chris Pritchett 1-4; Tyler Lacik 1-2; Dakota Sexton 2-2; Joey Johnson 1-0; Eric Byrd 3-(-4).

Passing: King George—Corey Henderson 9-20-0 74, TD. Riverbend—Eric Byrd 11-19-1 272, 3TD.

Receiving: King George—Antwan Brown 4-36; Jaylen Brinson 2-22; Jordi Estes 1-13, TD; Hunter Tolliver 1-2; Markiece Johnson 1-1. Riverbend—Chris Pritchett 4-135; Conner Booren 5-110, 2TD; Zach Sims 1-19; Aaron Judkins 1-8.

 

Justin Rice: 540/368-5045

jrice@freelancestar.com

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