LURAY — Three costly fumbles on kicks and an interception prevented Wilson Memorial from upending Luray on Friday night.
Despite the miscues, Wilson stayed in the game most of the way, but in the end, the turnovers proved too much to overcome as the Bulldogs came away with a 45-21 victory over their former Shenandoah District rivals.
“Turnovers on special teams killed us tonight,” said Wilson Memorial head coach Jeremiah Major.
Luray (2-0), now in the Bull Run District, turned a fumbled punt into points after the Wilson defense had held on the first series.
Senior Dylan Atkins bulled in from the one after junior Austin Holloway recovered the punt at the Wilson 26.
Senior Jordan Windle, who was successful on all of his extra point kicks and one field goal, put the Bulldogs ahead 7-0.
On the first play of the second quarter, Wilson tied the score on a 10-yard touchdown run by sophomore Dajor Carter. Ryan Ingersoll’s extra point was good.
It took less than a minute for the ‘Dawgs to take the lead for good on a nifty 84-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Dalton Griffith to senior Ethan Strate.
Luray’s Logan Keyser recovered the next Bulldog kickoff, preventing Wilson from regaining momentum.
“We saw some things on their alignment, so we decided to do some squib kicks,” said LHS head coach Nolan Jeffries.
But the Wilson defense was up to the challenge, turning Luray away on fourth down.
Unfortunately for the visitors, quarterback Kaden Welcher was intercepted by Luray’s Elijah Dale and the opportunistic Bulldogs cashed in for points again as the Griffith to Strate combination hooked up again, this time for 46 yards.
The half ended with the Bulldogs ahead 21-7.
The Hornets (1-1) came out fired up in the third period and closed to within a touchdown going on a 60-yard drive, with Welcher bursting in from the Luray eight with 8:15 left in the quarter.
Windle added a 33-yard field goal to put the Bulldogs up 24-14, with 5:13 remaining in the period.
Jaden Couper’s 55-yard punt return set Luray up again in good field position, going all the way to the Wilson 17-yard line.
From there, the Bulldogs opened up the lead to 31-14 as Griffith swept in from the seven at the end of the quarter.
Wilson quickly moved downfield in the fourth quarter and Welcher carried into the end zone from the five. Wilson now trailed 31-21 with 9:19 remaining in the game.
But Luray put the game away on their next possession as Atkins broke through for a two-yard score.
Timothy Trudell completed the scoring for Luray with a four-yard touchdown run with 3:18 left.
“Our defense played great despite the score, since they were on the field all night,” Major said. “We put up a pretty good fight and worked our tails off, but the mistakes cost us.”
Cobey Rothgeb was the leading rusher for Wilson against a tough Luray defense with 58 yards on nine carries. Welcher completed five of his six pass attempts for 80 yards.
Wilson returns to the area next week, taking on Page County in Shenandoah while Luray has Friday off.