MINERAL — Louisa County football coach Will Patrick stresses the importance of tempo on both sides of the ball every day in practice.
The mindset was evident Friday night as the Lions scored on their first five possession and cruised to a 42-24 victory over Western Albemarle in their final regular season home game.
Senior Jarett Hunter amassed 162 yards from scrimmage and accounted for two touchdowns. Robert Morgan IV added 140 yards on the ground and another score as Louisa County clinched its third straight Jefferson District title.
“It shows how hard we work and how we practice,” Hunter said. “It shows the tradition that we have here. We don’t want to lose. We want to play hard and get wins.”
Louisa County (9-0) set the tone early on thanks to big plays from Morgan and Hunter. Morgan took the opening kickoff 55 yards to give the Lions’ offense the ball at the Western Albemarle 39. On the first play from scrimmage, Hunter did the rest. The senior took an inside handoff, made the safety miss and raced 39 yards for a touchdown to give LCHS a 7-0 lead with 11:15 left in the first quarter.
The Lions’ defense did its part on the next possession thanks to a big play from Jordan Smith. With his big brother, Penn State linebacker Brandon Smith, on the sidelines watching, the junior linebacker made a play on a tipped ball for the first turnover of the game.
Patrick’s team capitalized on the miscue as quarterback Landon Wilson hit senior running back Gabe Cuzzo on a 27-yard TD to extend the lead to 14-0 with 6:42 left in the quarter.
Nearly four minutes later, Hunter found the end zone again. Noah Robinson’s 50-yard run gave Louisa County inside the 10-yard line and Hunter scored two plays later from a yard out to build a 20-0 lead with 2:49 left in the first quarter.
Hunter admitted it was a perfect start for his team.
“We wanted to get out to a fast start,” Hunter said. “In the locker room before the game, we talked about it didn’t matter if it was a kickoff return or if it’s the first play on offense, we just wanted to let them know what kind of game it was going to be.”
Louisa County was dealt a bit of adversity in the second quarter when Wilson sprained his left ankle following a 12-yard gain. Hunter took over at quarterback for the Lions as the freshman missed the rest of the game.
Hunter was prepared.
“Coach Patrick always talks about next man up,” Hunter said. “I know anytime that Landon goes down, I’ve got to go in there and step up and fill his position. I was able to step in and help my team out.”
The lead continued to grow in the second quarter as Kalup Shelton rumbled in from 32 yards out to give Louisa a commanding 28-0 lead with 8:41 left in the first half.
“The O-line did a great job of blocking,” Hunter said. “They left some gaps and they missed a few assignments defensively and we were able to take advantage of some of them and get in the end zone.”
After struggling offensively for most of the first half, Western Albemarle finally found some energy late in the second quarter. Following a pair of facemask penalties, the Warriors got on the board when Davis Long booted a 38-yard field goal to trim the lead to 28-3 with 4:24 left in the half.
The Lions tried to put the game away just before halftime when senior Alex Washington capped an 80-yard drive with a diving 7-yard touchdown to put Louisa County up 35-3 with 55.8 seconds left in the second quarter.
Not to be outdone, Western Albemarle quarterback Carter Shifflett showcased some two-minute magic as he hooked up with Garland Freeauf on a 51-yard catch and run with 1.9 seconds left as the Warriors gained momentum heading into halftime down 35-10.
The momentum carried over into the third quarter as the Western defense forced a Louisa County fumble on the Warriors’ 5 on their first possession. Western Albemarle marched 95 yards for a touchdown, capped by Shifflett’s 21-yard touchdown strike to Garrett Livermon to pull within 35-17 with 3:33 left.
That would be as close as the Warriors would get. Morgan put an exclamation point on the win with a 70-yard touchdown run off right tackle on the next possession to regain a 42-17 lead with 1:23 remaining.
Western capped the scoring in the fourth with Shifflett’s one-yard run.
For the game, Hunter rushed 11 times for 85 yards and two touchdowns. He also completed 5 of 7 passes for 77 yards as Louisa County extended its regular season winning streak to 29 in a row, including 19 straight against district foes.
Carter Shifflett completed 11 of 20 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns to lead Western Albemarle. He also added a rushing touchdown. Austin Shifflett led the Warriors with 77 yards on the ground.