Circling their collective wagons, Louisa promptly shut down the Indian rampage when needed this past Friday night in Mineral prevailing against a stubborn Powhatan squad 27-22 on Senior Night in The Jungle.
“These guys never quit, never give up,” said Lion Head Coach Jon Meeks. “This is quite a bunch we have out here.”
Beginning the contest with back-to-back miscues, a fumble by Louisa on the opening kickoff recovered by their visitors was followed closely with Powhatan returning the favor on the first play of their opening possession. With some semblance of order restored, Louisa (3-5,1-2) used a nine-play drive that culminated with senior quarterback Zack Jackson plunging two-yards into the Powhatan end zone, giving his squad a 7-0 lead after Noah Gallegos’s extra point at the 7:17 mark of the opening quarter.
Not allowing themselves to be slowed but so much, the Indians put together a seven-play campaign that resulted in Stephen Hodges running off tackle for six yards to bring his team within a point at 7-6. The Powhatan extra point attempt failed.
For the evening, Hodges did the heavy lifting for the Indian rushing attack with 107 yards on 29 attempts and a score.
Accounting for 84 percent (236/281 yards) of his team’s total offensive output, Jackson drove Louisa 62 yards on seven plays, scrambling from seven yards out with 1:51 left in the opening period for a 14-6 Lions advantage. Gallegos’s second extra point of the night was good.
Jackson was accurate on five of six aerial attempts for 136 yards while punishing the Indians on the ground with a century mark while averaging five yards per rush.
Following a 26-yard Jonathan Malcomb field goal that brought Powhatan within 14-9 with exactly 10 minutes remaining in the half, Powhatan’s ensuing possession resulted in a partially blocked punt by Louisa’s Trey Cherry giving the Lions possession on their own 39-yard line. Soaring out of the backfield and splitting the Powhatan defenders, Cherry was the recipient of a 61-yard arrow from teammate Jackson that gave the home team a 21-9 lead with 1:26 remaining in the first half.
Utilizing the clock wisely, Powhatan guided a seven-play drive into the Lion end zone with only nine seconds remaining as quarterback Joe Lewis found wide out Jake Salibury for a six-yard score, slicing into the lead at 21-15 at halftime.
Louisa’s second possession of the half would be the decisive clincher as a 62-yard touchdown pass from Jackson to junior wide out Deion Johnson with 23 seconds left in the third quarter gave the Lions a 27-16 edge over their visitors.
Again not succumbing easily, Powhatan (4-3,1-2) mounted a five play, 52-yard drive that steered them to closing within five points of its hosts at 27-22. Indian signal caller Lewis lobbed a 43-yard aerial to receiver Dion Drew with 11:20 remaining in the game. For the evening, Drew pulled in four catches for 84 yards and a score.
The second half of Friday’s contest began what would come to be thought of as one of Louisa’s best defensive stands of the season. Commencing with a forced fumble on Powhatan’s opening possession, the Lions set in motion a series of stops ultimately resulting in the most favorable of positions.
Led by Jordan Painting and Kyle Anderson’s 11 and 10 tackles respectively, Louisa’s collective defensive unit would make a total of 68 stops in the game. Tenacious resistance beginning at the 8:39 mark of the third quarter gave witness to a thwarted field goal attempt, a pair of “turn-over-on-downs” and a forced punt were all the result of a resolute Louisa defensive effort that rendered an otherwise effective Indian offensive system intimidated and bewildered.
“The Powhatan kids played really hard, classy as usual but our defense was on top of their game tonight. There have been times this season where we were inconsistent but tonight we were on target,” said Meeks.
Spoiling the Indians’ Malcomb’s second field goal attempt of the contest, Louisa forced yet another turn-over-on-downs with a little less than nine minutes remaining in the game and once more imposed their combined will to frustrate Powhatan’s efforts. After getting the ball back with 5:34 remaining, Powhatan attempted one last crusade that was again foiled by the Lions’ unwavering defensive pressure, concluding in a forced punt.
Running out the clock with consecutive kneel downs effectively and efficiently ended the contest as Louisa exhibited an impressive defensive approach coupled with offensive volatility at opportune moments for the victory.
Louisa will travel to Charlottesville High School on Friday, Oct. 26 for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.