ROANOKE — Patrick Henry (Roanoke) ended more than two decades of postseason frustration on Friday night as the homestanding Patriots rolled up 499 yards total offense and forced seven turnovers in a 56-14 Region 5D romp over Albemarle.
Patrick Henry’s win was its first in the postseason in 25 years and it moved the Patriots (7-4) into a second-round game next week at No. 2 seed North Stafford.
“It’s exciting, the kids are fired up about it,” Patrick Henry coach Alan Fiddler said. “We look forward to keep playing football.”
The issue never was in doubt for PH against a young Albemarle team that came to Roanoke with a 3-7 record that included a 26-0 loss to Patrick Henry.
PH quarterback Roy Gunn missed that game with a suspension, but he more than made his mark Friday. Gunn threw for 268 yards and four touchdowns, while senior running back Jalen Cook ran for 138 tackle-busting yards and three TDs and caught a TD pass.
PH blew out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead and did not look back.
“We made sure we got the job done,” Cook said. “We just wanted to get the win for Coach Fiddler and the community.”
Cook had TD runs of seven and three yards to go with a 13-yard TD reception from Gunn in the first half. He had a 6-yard TD run in the second half and also came up with one of PH’s three interceptions.
Albemarle coach Brandon Isaiah saw enough in 2019 of Cook, who rambled for 310 yards on the ground in the regular-season game.
“I don’t need to see him any more,” said Isaiah. “He’s a special talent. He’s got great feet and he doesn’t waste a lot of energy.
“As a running back, it’s something you can look at and appreciate.”
Fiddler had high praise for Cook’s ability to pick up huge chunks of yardage after contact.
“Tonight, he had a lot of juice and he was really punishing them as he ran the ball,” the PH coach said.
Gunn staked Patrick Henry to a 14-0 lead with a 38-yard TD pass to sophomore Tashawn Webb and a 72-yard bomb to Trace Pedigo.
He came back with a 13-yard TD pass to Cook on a bubble screen and finished with a 27-yard TD to Gavin McCormick on nearly an identical play for a 42-7 halftime lead.
PH showed no rust from finishing its regular season two weeks ago and having last Friday open.
“We needed a break,” Fiddler said. “We were healthy but it was good to get a little bit of break there.”
Albemarle sophomore Ebenezer McCarthy ran for 178 yards on 20 carries, including a 54-yard TD run on the first play of the second half.
It was not enough to overcome four lost fumbles and three interceptions with five of the turnovers occurring before halftime.
Backup quarterback Aquon Sims was running the offense with regular starter Jacob King sidelined by a concussion that he suffered last week.
Sims threw a 38-yard TD pass to Tony Green in the first half.
“We started 16 sophomores tonight,” Isaiah said. “We’ve got a really, really young team. We had 10 starters out the first five weeks.
“We’ve just been fighting uphill. We’ve got a lot to be excited about but it’s just difficult to watch us in these situations.”