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Second half surge saves Louisa Lions

Posted on Thursday, November 23, 2017 at 5:00 am

Brandon Smith attempts to shake a pair of Monacan tackles as he makes his way down the field during last Friday’s game.

The Louisa Lions did it again.

After trailing at halftime of their Virginia High School League region 4B semifinal game against the Monacan High School Chiefs, the Lions came back with a vengeance in the second half, and secured their 12th win of the season, 35-28.

Getting to that final score would prove to be a tough challenge for the Lions. The Chiefs got the ball to start the game and made short work of the drive. On the fourth play, quarterback Syour Fludd connected with Izayah Reeves for a 34-yard touchdown pass, making them the first team to beat Louisa to the scoreboard since Albemarle High School on Sept. 22.

Luke Walls kicked the extra point for the Chiefs and they led 7-0 with 10:17 left in the first quarter.

The Lions responded on their next drive. Senior Malik Bell got the ball across midfield with a 19-yard sprint into Monacan’s territory.  Seven plays later, Bell capped the drive with a 6-yard run into the end zone.

Senior kicker Thomas Henley put the ball through the uprights to tie the game, 7-7 with 7:22 left on the clock.

Monacan kept their offensive momentum going on their next possession, which ended with a 24-yard touchdown pass from Fludd to Arturo Mendoza. The score was now 14-7 Monacan, with 4:32 remaining in the quarter.

The Lions didn’t have the same kind of luck. After pushing into Monacan territory, their drive was stalled at the 22-yard line. Henley took the field for a 34-yard field goal attempt, but the ball fell short.

Starting on the Chiefs’ own 20-yard line, Fludd connected with Reeves on the first play of the drive for 49 yards to move the ball into Louisa’s territory. Korey Bridy skirted the Lions defense for a 22-yard run to get the Chiefs within striking distance, then finished the drive three plays later with a 1-yard run to paydirt.     Walls’ kick was good and the Chiefs now led 21-7 with 10:20 left before the halftime break.

The Lions fumbled on the kickoff return, giving the Chiefs yet another shot at the end zone, but this time their defense held, forcing a three-and-out.

The Lions fielded the punt at their 12-yard line and made small gains over the first three plays. Then, on their fourth down, Bell found an opening and took advantage of it, scampering 79 yards down the field to the Chiefs’ end zone. With 6:42 left before the break, the score stood at 21-14.

The Chiefs started the next drive at their own 27-yard line and worked their way into Louisa’s territory, down to the 6-yard line, one yard shy of the first down. A false start penalty on the fourth down bumped them back five yards and the Chiefs set up for a field goal.

The 28-yard attempt ba Walls was successful, but a penalty against the Lions for running into the kicker presented the Chiefs with a choice, decline the penalty and take the field goal, or accept the penalty, lose the points and replay the down from a few yards closer.

They chose the latter.

At first, it seemed to be the smart choice. On their next play, the Chiefs moved the ball, gaining three yards and a new set of downs with just under a minute left in the half.

The Lions’ defense held strong, not giving up any yards and actually taking two back, making it 4th and goal from the five.

The Chiefs again set up for a field goal, this time from 22 yards. Walls’ kick was again true, but another penalty was called against the Lions, and the Chiefs again elected to take the penalty over the points.

With 14 seconds left on the clock, the Chiefs set up on the 2-yard line. A false start backed the Chiefs up to the seven and Fludd took the snap and fired it toward the end zone, hoping for a touchdown.

Instead, he got an interception.

To read the entire story, see the Nov. 23 edition of The Central Virginian.