Second-half surge leads to big win

Kalup Shelton breaks through the Hornets’ defense during the Lions game against Orange on Feb. 27. Shelton tallied 165 rushing yards and a touchdown for the night.

 

The Louisa County High School Lions varsity football team battled back from a 20-15 halftime deficit with a 29-0 second-half surge to defeat the Orange County Hornets 44-20 on Feb. 27.

The Hornets got on the board first, taking the opening kickoff to their own 37-yard line and working their way down the field from there. Markell Jackson capped the drive with a four-yard sprint into the end zone. Orange attempted a two-point conversion but was stopped short, giving the Hornets a 6-0 lead with 6:34 left in the first quarter.

Louisa’s first drive was cut short when Jayden Warren picked off a pass from Landon Wilson, but the Lions’ defense locked down to force a three-and-out, givng them the ball back just inside Hornet territory on the 45-yard line. Kalup Shelton covered 39 of those yards, including the final four to paydirt. Caden Lundy put the extra point attempt through the uprights to give Louisa a 7-6 lead with 11:30 remaining in the half.

The Hornets didn’t waste any time in responding, with Paul Poirier finding Bryant Chiles for a five-yard touchdown pass to finish off a nine-play 43-yard drive. Orange again lined up for two, and this time they got it, with Douglas Newsome connecting with Poirier to go ahead 14-7 with 6:56 on the clock. 

The Lions retook the lead on their next drive. Starting on their own 49-yard line, Landon Wilson moved the ball into Hornet territory with a 14-yard run, then added another five to get the ball to the 32-yard line. Shelton broke loose a couple of plays later for a 23-yard scamper to get the ball inside the 10-yard line, and Wilson connected with Chase Miller for the touchdown from nine yards out. Stephen Dean pushed into the end zone for the two-point conversion, giving Louisa back the lead with 4:44 remaining.

Hopes of extending that lead on their next possession were cut short with another interception, this one by Donald Brooks who ran the ball down to Louisa’s five-yard line before being stopped. Jackson covered that distance in a single play for the touchdown. Orange’s third attempt at a two-point conversion was stopped short of the end zone, but the Hornets were back on top, 20-15, heading into the halftime break.

“The message [to the guys] at halftime was that we were going to line up and do our jobs and play Louisa football,” said head coach Will Patrick. 

And play Louisa football they did.

The Lions took the opening kickoff of the second half on their own 44-yard line, moving into Orange territory a few plays later and working their way to the 35 before Wilson found an opening, covering that distance in a single sprint for a touchdown with 7:19 left in the period. Shelton ran for the two-point conversion, putting the Lions ahead 23-20.

The Lions kept up their momentum on their next drive. Starting on their own 22-yard line, they worked their way to the Orange 22 over the next 10 plays. Jordan Smith ran for 20 yards to get to the two-yard line, then covered that distance on the next play. Lundy put the extra point away to extend Louisa’s lead to 30-20 with 11:38 left in the game.

Louisa added touchdowns on both of their next possessions. Troy Fischer capped the next drive, a 42-yard push, with a one-yard run, and Damond Walker scored the final touchdown of the night with a one-yard push. Lundy kicked the extra point for both scores, making the score 44-20 with 3:00 left in the game. The Hornets were unable to score on thier next drive and Louisa ran out the clock from there to pick up the win.

Patrick said he learned a lot about his team in that second half.

“I learned that we’ve got some resilience,” he said. “I learned that this group of young men have bought into what we’re doing and they understand now – you’re going to get everyone’s best shot on any given night, and that you’ve got to play all four quarters and you have to give everything you have for your teammates. We did that tonight. We came out in the second half and really turned the ball game around ... That’s what I’m proud of.”

Shelton led Louisa’s offense on the ground with 165 of the team’s 426 rushing yards over 18 carries. Wilson added 139 yards over 15 carries.

The Lions are now 2-0 for the season. They return to The Jungle on March 5, hosting the Monticello Mustangs for their first home game at Mark Fischer Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

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