Sometimes when we look in the mirror we don’t like what we see. But there is nothing more beautiful than our own reflection. That is exactly what the Goochland football team saw against Poquoson Friday night.
In a matchup between two teams that were essentially mirror images of one another, the outcome of Friday’s Class 2, Region A championship was decided by key stops during crucial times in a marquee matchup of Wing-T practitioners.
Poquoson was able to thwart the Bulldogs’ ground game and come away with a 21-10 victory.
“As a wing-T guy, it’s a joy to watch it done well,” Goochland coach Joe Fowler said. “I just wish they hadn’t done it well against us. They’re a solid, well-coached football team that deserved to win that game, and it might not be the last game they win this season.”
The Islanders (10-3) advance to the state semifinals next week.
In its usual style, Goochland found its way into the end zone quickly on the opening drive. A nice return by Cole Nuckols gave the Bulldogs good field position to start before nifty runs by John King and Quincy Snead set up Devin McCray for a one-yard touchdown. Zach Gordon converted the PAT to give Goochland a 7-0 lead.
Poquoson tied it up later in the quarter, as Robert Henesey bulled his way in the end zone from two yards out.
Goochland (12-1) appeared to gain a bit of momentum with a fumble recovery by Keiston Carter with 2:54 to play in the first quarter, but it was short-lived.
Five plays later, the Bulldogs put the ball on the ground and Poquoson picked it up.
On the ensuing drive, the visitors got a boost from Colten Hicks, as the fleet-footed junior sprinted for 61 yards before he was tripped up by Kindrick Braxton at the 26-yard line.
A few minutes later, the Bulldogs put together an impressive goal-line stand, stopping Hicks on fourth-and-goal at the two.
Pinned at the one, Goochland was unable to make any progress, and a McCray pass was intercepted by Brody McDevitt in the end zone to give the Islanders a lead they didn’t relinquish.
Goochland cut that lead to 14-10 just before halftime as Gordon nailed a 36-yard field goal.
However, the second half belonged to Poquoson.
“I thought we were physical, and at the line of scrimmage we didn’t get pushed off the ball,” Poquoson coach Elliott Duty said. “That’s a good football team. Anytime you can come into their place and beat a good football team like that, it’s a job.”
The Islanders used a long, methodical drive to start the third quarter, which resulted in a 17-yard TD by Max Barrett. The Bulldogs had no answer for the fullback Henesey, who, along with Hicks and Bailey Green gave the Goochland defense fits all night.
Henesey finished with a game-high 92 yards on 20 carries, while Hicks toted the ball 13 times for 91 yards.
Poquoson’s defense focused on fullback Jasper Carter, the Bulldogs’ leading rusher, holding the 5-11, 230-pounder to just 11 rushing yards.
“You can’t let him get off or they just roll,” Duty added. “We did a good job of stuffing them on the inside. In the first half they did get some outside plays, but we tied it up in the second half.”
Goochland, which advanced to the state semifinals last year, was held to 143 yards on the ground. Snead led the way with 58 yards rushing.
“They’re the fastest defense we’ve seen all season. [Henesey] is the best linebacker we’ve seen all season and we’ve seen some pretty good ones, but he’s special,” Fowler said. “They were keying on everything inside, and when we tried to get to the outside, we just didn’t make our blocks. They played better than we did tonight, and sometimes that’s how it goes.”
The Bulldogs dropped their first home playoff game since 2014, but the Class of 2018 has no doubt etched its place in the program’s history.
“These kids went 20-0 in the regular season for two years,” Fowler said. “We’ve only had two other classes that were able to do that. They’re a special group of young men. They’ve given so much to this program on and off the field and they’re definitely going to be missed.”