As the game clock above the south end zone of The Jungle read triple zeroes after Louisa’s loss versus Fluvanna on Friday, Oct. 18, screams fell from the visitor’s bleachers and the Fluvanna students and parents who made the trip poured onto the north end of the field to celebrate with the victorious Flucos.
Across the gridiron, in Louisa’s post game huddle, the only things that fell were tears from the eyes of the players after a demoralizing 23-6 loss.
“We had six turnovers and mental mistakes,” head coach Jon Meeks said. “I don’t want to take anything away from Fluvanna. They played really well, and we didn’t, and that’s a bad combination.”
The loss was probably the toughest blow to the Lions’ in their 2-5 season so far. They entered the game seemingly poised to dispatch a 0-6 Fluvanna team, only to have their plans unraveled by defensive befuddlement and offensive deficiency.
The Flucos used an assortment of misdirection and counter run plays from the shotgun formation that left Louisa linebackers guessing all night, as the Fluvanna backfield ran for 176 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries.
Louisa’s offense didn’t do their defensive teammates any favors, turning the ball over six times, three on fumbles and three on interceptions. Quarterback Trey Cherry was left scrambling for his life all night, and all three interceptions seemed to be hopeless heaves downfield.
“We’ve had trouble establishing a passing game all year,” Meeks said. “It always seems to be one thing, whether it’s bad protection or not looking at the read we’re supposed to. Whatever it’s been, we’ve been struggling.”
Fluvanna headed into the contest as a winless team, but the Flucos handled the first half like an army on a mission. They scored on their opening drive, using eight plays to cover 46 yards in just three minutes. Fluvanna added another score on a 15-yard touchdown run by running back Marcus Jackson on the first play of the second quarter to take a 14-0 lead.
Louisa, meanwhile, didn’t get a first down until their third possession of the game. Fluvanna’s defense swarmed the middle gaps in Louisa’s offensive line, daring the Lions to beat them in the air. The Flucos held Louisa’s backfield of Deion Johnson and Deion Jackson to a combined total of just 53 yards on 14 carries.
Louisa did manage to score on a 35-yard touchdown pass by Cherry to wideout Idris Davis to bring the score to 20-6 before halftime, but self-inflicted wounds by the Lions squashed any chance of a second half comeback. After an impressive interception by Cherry to halt Fluvanna’s opening drive of the second half, Louisa fumbled the following snap and gave the Flucos the ball right back on the Lions’ nine yard line.
Louisa’s next possessions weren’t any more productive. They fumbled to end one, turned it over on downs on the next and threw interceptions on the final two possessions of the game. The Lions defensive effort that held Fluvanna to just three points in the second half was all but forgotten due to the offense’s inability to move the ball down the field.
The loss was a huge blow to Louisa’s playoff hopes. Meeks said that he feels that while a 5-5 finishing record would be enough to qualify, a 4-6 record would very likely leave Louisa on the outside looking in come postseason play. With a 2-5 record and a schedule that features powerhouse Monticello in the finale, everyone in Louisa’s locker room knows that whatever room for error they had dissipated in their latest loss.
“We’re in the playoffs now, we need to win,” Meeks said. “If not, it’ll be clean your stuff out of the locker after your tenth game.”
The setting for Louisa to redeem themselves will be a tantalizing one. Louisa faces archrival Orange County for the Lions’ homecoming game on Friday, Oct. 25. Though Orange County is just 1-6, Meeks knows that the Hornets would love to play the role of spoiler for Louisa’s slim playoff hopes.
“It’s a pretty even matchup when I watch the film,” Meeks said. “They’re fighting for their lives too. We’re in the same exact boat.”