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NW Region, Division 6 Final: Bulldogs end Eagles’ hopes
COLONIAL FORGE CAN’T OVERCOME 20–0 DEFICIT
BY STEVE DeSHAZO
THE FREE LANCE–STAR
WOODBRIDGE—Mere minutes had passed since the end of Colonial Forge’s 2012 football season, and veteran coach Bill Brown was already looking forward to the 2013 campaign.
Northwest Region, Division 5 final
Mountain View (8–4) at North Stafford (10–1), 2
Region I, Division 4 final
Courtland (8–4) at Smithfield (10–1), 1:30
Region I, Division 3 final
Park View–South Hill (10–2)
at James Monroe (10–1), 1:30
SEE ALSO: Prep pairings
“We’ve got so many kids coming back,” Brown said after the Eagles’ 23–13 loss to Hylton in the Northwest Region, Division 6 title game Friday night. “I’m really excited about next year.”
If the young Eagles can channel the disappointment they felt as they boarded the bus for the trip home with the encouragement of their strong second-half performance, they’ll have something to build on.
They’ll also have an off-season to recall chances they didn’t capitalize on as a surprising season ended with a 10–3 record.
But Friday night belonged to the veteran Bulldogs, who won their 10th regional title in school history. Hylton (10–2) will visit Eastern Region champion Ocean Lakes next Saturday in a Group AAA, Division 6 semifinal game.
The Bulldogs won a pair of state titles with Brown as their head coach. On Friday night, he watched from the opposing sideline as Hylton raced to a 20–0 first-half lead on three long-distance touchdowns and never trailed.
“They’re a big-play team. They have big-play players,” Brown said. “Sometimes you get caught in coverages that don’t work out for you.”
The first came midway through the first quarter. After a couple of strong inside runs by Hylton fullback Josh Ronan–Redfearn, quarterback Travon McMillan faked the dive play, got a good kickout block and raced 26 yards for a 6–0 lead.
On the second play of the second quarter, a miscommunication allowed Hylton’s Terrin Allen–Neal to get behind the Eagles’ secondary, and he raced in with a 49-yard scoring pass from McMillan.
Then, after a Colonial Forge punt, Ronan–Redfearn took another handoff and burst untouched through the heart of Colonial Forge’s defense for an 80-yard touchdown run.
“We made too many mistakes, and they capitalized,” Eagles senior Richie Nicolas said. “But we kept fighting.”
That became apparent on Colonial Forge’s next offensive play. The Eagles had negative total yardage to that point, but quarterback Malik Shabazz threaded a 60-yard touchdown pass to Nicolas to give his team hope heading into halftime.
Colonial Forge had a chance to cut even more into Hylton’s lead early in the third quarter, when Matt Myers’ punt bounced off the Bulldogs’ return man, and David Jones recovered at the 9. Shabazz gained 6 yards on two carries, but his third-down pass for Jeff Moore was intercepted by Hylton’s Travis Crawley in the end zone.
“That was huge,” Brown said. “We didn’t come away with points when we had a couple of opportunities.”
Hylton extended its lead to 23–7 on Xavier Mensah’s 20-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter and seemed ready to cruise into the state semifinals.
But Moore intercepted McMillan and returned the ball to Hylton’s 11 with 5:03 remaining. Two plays later, Nicolas swept around left end for a 9-yard touchdown.
The Eagles’ two-point conversion attempt failed, and the Bulldogs recovered the subsequent onside kick to wrap it up.
Hylton finished the night with 273 rushing yards (154 by Ronan–Redfearn and 54 by McMillan) to beat the Eagles for the second time this season. Hylton won a regular-season matchup 36–17 on Oct. 12.
“It’s hard to play a good football team twice,” said Hylton coach Tony Lilly, a former standout defensive back for the Denver Broncos. “Sometimes [the opponent] brings a little more emotion into, because they know they don’t have anything to lose.”
Colonial Forge is now 0–4 in regional finals, but hopes to change that next season.
“We’ve gone through a lot of adversity this year, but we didn’t quit,” Brown said. “I’m really proud of them.”
Colonial Forge 0 7 0 6 — 13
Hylton 6 14 0 3 — 23
Hy-T. McMillan 26-yard run (kick failed)
Hy-T. Allen-Neal 49-yard pass from T. McMillan (X. Mensah kick)
Hy-J. Ronan-Redfearn 80-yard run (X. Mensah kick)
CF-R. Nicolas 60-yard pass from M. Shabazz (M. Myers kick)
Hy-X. Mensah 20-yard field goal
CF-R. Nicolas 9-yard run (pass failed)
First downs 10 17
Rushing yardage 24-43 53-273
Passing yardage 154 166
Passes 10-23-2 10-18-1
Punts-Avg. 8-36.3 4-37.3
Fumbles-lost 1-0 3-2
Penalties-yards 1-5 7-46
Rushing: Hylton—Josh Ronan-Redfearn 17-145, TD; Travon McMillan 22-54, TD; Garrett Woodling 4-45; J.C. Mao-Alston 9-25; Lawrence Hunt 1-4. Colonial Forge—Malik Shabazz 15-19; Mike Campbell 4-15; Richie Nicolas 1-9, TD; Daniel Ezeagwu 3-6; Jeff Moore 1-(-6).
Passing: Hylton—Travon McMillan 10-18-1 166, TD. Colonial Forge—Malik Shabazz 10-23-2 154, TD.
Receiving: Hylton—Tarrin Allen-Neal 5-114, TD; Garrett Woodling 2-25; Josh Ronan-Redfearn 1-10; J.C. Mao-Alston 1-10; Cameron Pulley 1-10; Jackson Shands 1-7. Colonial Forge—Richie Nicolas 2-69, TD; Jeff Moore 3-30; Ryan Burns 2-25; Daniel Ezeagwu 1-15; Mike Campbell 1-11; Justin Brown 1-6.
Steve DeShazo: 540/374-5443