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Group AA, Div. 3 Final: Bees best Yellow Jackets



For more on game, see gridiron blog



LYNCHBURG—When the James Monroe offense took the field with a little more than two minutes remaining in the Group AA, Division 3 state championship game Saturday against Brookville, the Yellow Jackets were aiming for another miracle.

James Monroe pulled out an improbable three-overtime victory over Kettle Run one week earlier in the state semifinals.

And after Bryan Johnson snared an acrobatic one-handed catch on third-and-22 to set up a touchdown one possession earlier, JM fans who made the trek to Liberty University’s Williams Stadium could sense more magic upcoming.

However, JM’s dream season was finally halted.

Sophomore quarterback Jay Scroggins’ fourth-down pass from the Brookville 38-yard line fell incomplete and the Yellow Jackets suffered a 24–14 loss to the Bees, who completed a perfect 14–0 season with their 28th straight victory and second straight state championship game win over JM.

“I can’t even lie. It hurts,” JM senior linebacker Eric Nelson said. “But when you do your best, that’s all anybody can ask for. We have nothing to be ashamed of.”

Nelson shared that message with teammate Tony Scott at the end of the game. He also told senior cornerback/wide receiver Darryl Dyson to keep this head held high because “We did all we could do.”

It would be hard to argue the Yellow Jackets (12–2) didn’t maximize their potential this season. They lost two starting quarterbacks to injury and dealt with more attrition as the season progressed.

Still, they were able to play in the state championship game for the seventh time in school history. The Yellow Jackets were visibly emotional after the game.

Nearly every player was in tears or held their heads down as they trudged off the field.

“We’re an emotional team,” head coach Rich Serbay said. “We wear our emotions on our shoulders.”

Serbay and his charges were particularly emotional about a holding call against the Yellow Jackets toward the end of the first half.

James Monroe was trailing 14–7 when Scott blocked an Alan Gutierrez field goal attempt. The Yellow Jackets returned the ball to Brookville’s 45-yard line and a 15-yard personal foul penalty on the Bees placed the ball at their 30.

Three plays later, Scroggins connected with running back Adrian Boone on an apparent 24-yard touchdown pass. But it was called back because of holding, and the Yellow Jackets had to settle for a failed fake field goal attempt as the first-half clock expired.

“That killed us,” Serbay said. “It should’ve been 14–14 at the half. Who knows what happens at the half if it’s 14–14? We called the perfect play, great protection and I don’t know where the flag came from.”

Scott said the play slowed JM’s momentum as it was prepared to get the ball back after halftime. The Yellow Jackets were forced to punt two plays after a 2nd-and-1, and Brookville took advantage.

The Bees used a 14-play, 91-yard drive to take a 21–7 lead with 2:57 left in the third quarter on Benjamin Hogg’s 9-yard touchdown reception from Kendall BeCraft. Brookville opened the drive with nine straight running plays. Head coach Jeff Woody called it a “championship drive” because it occurred “against the best defense we’ve faced all year.”

Woody said the plan was to run directly at JM because its speed made it difficult to run outside.

“We talked about some things at halftime and we knew there were a couple of plays we could rely on,” Woody said. “We came out running those particular plays. The offensive line got lathered up. The running backs started feeling it. We started moving the ball methodically and taking the time off the clock.”

The Yellow Jackets fell behind 24–7 after a Gutierrez 24-yard field goal with 9:15 left in the game. But as they have all season, they made one final push.

Johnson’s catch kept the ensuing drive alive. And two plays after a pass interference call against Brookville on fourth down in the end zone, Scroggins connected with Dyson on a 1-yard touchdown pass to pull JM within 10 with 3:41 left in the game.

But unlike the Kettle Run contest, the Yellow Jackets’ grit wasn’t enough.

Serbay implored his players to shake hands with Brookville after the game. He told them to proudly accept their second-place trophies and medals.

He also shared a few words with Scroggins, who sat on the bench looking downward.

“My words to him were, ‘You’re the main reason why we’re here. You’re a leader. You’re a winner,’” Serbay said. “We’re going to hopefully come back to this game next year and he’s going to be the one to lead us.”

    James Monroe 0 7 0 7 — 14

    Brookville 0 14 7 3 — 24

    Second Quarter

    JM-A. Boone 41-yard run (D. Dit kick)

    Br-A. Calloway 63-yard run (A. Gutierrez kick)

    Br-B. Hogg 9-yard pass from K. BeCraft (A. Gutierrez kick)

    Third Quarter

    Br-S. Racanelli 11-yard pass from K. BeCraft (A. Gutierrez kick)

    Fourth Quarter

    Br-A. Gutierrez 24-yard field goal

    JM-D. Dyson 1-yard pass from J. Scroggins (D. Dit kick)


    JM Br

    First downs 17 19

    Rushing yardage 34-119 48-248

    Passing yardage 159 136

    Passes 10-22-1 10-16-0

    Punts-Avg. 5-37.4 2-31.0

    Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-0

    Penalties-yards 5-51 8-68


    Rushing: Brookville—Anthony Calloway 12-123, TD; Hilson Atkins 14-74; Phillip Watts 6-35; Derrick Foxx 4-23; Jamal Payne 6-7; Kendall BeCraft 4-(-10). James Monroe—Adrian Boone 13-87, TD; Darryl Dyson 5-35; Deanta Nelson 1-4; Tony Scott 2-(-1); Glenn Taylor 1-(-2); Jay Scroggins 12-(-4).

    Passing: Brookville—Kendall BeCraft 10-16-0 136, 2TD. James Monroe—Jay Scroggins 10-22-1 159, TD.

    Receiving: Brookville—Jamal Payne 2-58; Hilson Atkins 3-22; Steven Racanelli 1-11, TD; Anthony Calloway 1-7. James Monroe—She’Mar Ellis 2-59; Bryan Johnson 2-53; Darryl Dyson 4-34, TD; Matt Forjan 1-9; Jarmal Bevels 1-4.

Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526