One would think that 556 yards of offense and 29 first downs would be more than enough to win a football game. But, to quote popular ESPN Game Day host Lee Corso, “Not so fast my friend!”
That was the case Friday evening as the Fighting Hornets of Orange County High School fell to the visiting Charlottesville Black Knights 57-47 before a capacity crowd on Homecoming night.
Wasting little time, Charlottesville (3-1) tallied the opening score less than a minute into the contest when Tre Durrett took a pitch from senior quarterback Sam Neale and sprinted 13 yards into the end zone with 11:06 on the scoreboard clock. Kicker Joseph Von Storch’s extra point attempt was blocked, leaving the score at 6-0.
Charlottesville’s opening drive began with a 40-yard dash from Neale that brought the visitors into Hornet territory at the 38 yard line.
Responding quickly, Orange put together a 13-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in signal caller Kenyon Carter lofting a four-yard pass to senior Tyrone Warren at the 7:21 mark. Darius Minor’s successful extra point gave the Hornets the lead at 7-6.
With a combined 35 first-quarter points, the two teams gave the crowd a sampling of the prolific offensive firepower to come.
“It was one of those games where you had two good offenses going back and forth for the entire game,” Orange Head Coach Jesse Lohr said. “All credit to Coach Sherry and his team; they came up with some big plays that turned in their favor tonight. We had some opportunities, but it just didn’t happen tonight.”
A faulty onside kick from the Hornets resulted in Charlottesville recovering the ball on Orange’s 40 yard line. After a gain of a lone yard from Neale, a bruising 39-yard rush from fullback Sabias Folley put the Black Knights in the lead once more at 14-7 with 6:37 remaining in the quarter, following a successful two-point conversion.
Knotting the game just 19 seconds later, Orange’s workhorse tailback Jaylen Alexander burst around left end and down the sideline for an 86-yard run that ignited the frenzied crowd once again.
On the evening, Alexander rushed for 321 yards (205 in the first half) and tallied three touchdowns, averaging an incredible 14.5 yards per carry.
“Jaylen (Alexander) did really, really well again tonight. He’s a dynamo out there,” Lohr noted after the game. “I believe in all my guys and everybody played really hard tonight. Except for a few miscues here and there, this could have been our game.”
Rounding out the opening period scoring with 2:15 on the clock, Folley plunged across from two yards out to make it 21-14 Charlottesville.
Hornet quarterback Kenyon Carter was crafting an impressive 227-yard, four touchdown night, but a crucial interception at the beginning of the final quarter pivoted the contest toward the visitors. Trailing by just two points (36-34) after Alexander’s 15-yard run for his second score of the evening and a huge defensive stop from Orange resulting in a turn-over-on-downs, the Hornets had seemingly regained the momentum.
But a pick from Black Knights’ safety Damion Washington set up a 13-yard scamper from Durrett that gave Charlottesville a 43-34 lead with 10:13 remaining in the game. The Black Knights would not trail again.
“We just had a few miscues that allowed the game to get away from us at the end but, despite all of that, we had our chances and just didn’t capitalize,” Lohr said.
A 30-yard completion from Carter to Minor at 9:39 in the fourth quarter brought Orange (2-2) to within 43-40 and a concluding five-yard touchdown run by Alexander with 5:04 remaining accounted for the final tally.
Charlottesville’s triple-option offense accounted for 542 total yards, 530 of which came on the ground. Folley rushed for 219 yards and four scores.
The Hornets’ Minor pulled in 123 receiving yards while accounting for a pair of touchdowns while Warren and Chris Washington had a touchdown each.
Orange will travel to Fluvanna County High School Friday, Sept. 29.