As the first quarter wound down, fans at the Jungle had to wonder if a tight back-and-forth battle was in store, like so many of the Louisa County-Western Albemarle contests of the 2010s. Although the squads had disparate results with their non-district slates, the winless Warriors held a 7-0 lead while the Lions’ offense managed just nine yards in the opening frame.
But by the end of the night, Louisa cracked 600 yards of total offense – bolstered by the squad’s highest rushing total in six seasons – and tallied a comfortable 49-14 victory to open Jefferson District play.
It was senior flanker Isaiah Haywood that kicked Louisa’s ground attack into gear, starting with a 75-yard dash.
“Coach called on my name and we needed one, down 7-0,” said Haywood, whose run tied the score 7-7 with 9:32 left in the second quarter. “I made a play for us, got us in the game and gave us momentum. We drove off that ever since.”
And then the rain and sometimes-swirling wind arrived in Mineral. Quarterback Nathan Simon, who completed 4-of-4 through the air for 39 yards on the Warriors’ opening 49-yard drive, capped by a 6-yard touchdown to Jack Boyd, had a much tougher time the rest of the night, finishing 9-of-27 for 152 yards. Western struggled to establish a ground game against the Lions’ front, posting just 58 yards for the game. In the second quarter, the Warriors picked up just one first down, via a fumble after a pass completion that a teammate recovered for seven additional yards.
After a punt following Haywood’s long run, Louisa marched 69 yards on nine plays with runs by Haywood, Jayden Seaberry, and fullback Miguel Holmes Jr. Freshman quarterback Jahiem Jackson took off through the left side to grab the lead via a 13-yard keeper with 2:33 left in the half.
Both teams had two unsuccessful two-minute drills from there, hampered by penalties. Jackson was picked on third-and-long by senior Western defensive back Duncan Healy, and then had time expire after being tackled in-bounds inside Western’s 10 yard line on a short scramble.
“He’s a freshman and learning each week, things that he can do and can’t do, managing the game and also making plays, whether it’s with his feet or throwing the ball,” said Louisa County coach Will Patrick. “I’m asking a young freshman to do a lot, and he’s handing it with poise.”
With the score 14-7 at the break, Louisa looked to continue its second-quarter success on the ground and cut the two first-half turnovers.
“Definitely during halftime, everyone got coached at for real for real,” said Seaberry. “We just came out with different energy.”
The Lions received to start the third quarter and promptly marched 75 yards in 11 plays, all runs, and overcame a holding penalty. Seaberry converted a fourth-and-5 with a 10-yard pickup and capped the drive with a 4-yard score.
“Just a few tweaks during halftime,” Patrick said. “Getting the playmakers the ball, like Seaberry and Haywood and Donnie (Nelson).”
After Western returned the ensuing kickoff to the Louisa 22, the Lions’ defense held them scoreless with a four-and-out. Then Haywood struck again, taking a handoff off misdirection and racing 82 yards untouched for another score. He finished with 175 yards and two scores on four runs.
“That really gives you a spark, man,” said Patrick. “Uncle mo’ gets on your side, man you can get it rolling, and those plays by Haywood were huge.”
Nelson, a sophomore running back, got Louisa’s third series of the quarter started with a 55-yard run. Then the Lions dialed up a pass to senior Adam Mills, who slipped down the left side and waited for Jackson’s lofted ball to arrive through the rain. Shaking off an earlier drop, he made the catch and barrelled in for a 25-yard score, and it was 34-7 for the home team as the third quarter wound down.
Louisa added touchdowns on its next two series, as well, to set up a running clock for portions of the fourth quarter. Seaberry tallied them both with runs of 1 and 42 yards. He finished the night with 188 yards on 20 carries, both game-highs.
“Second half, we definitely played Louisa Football,” Seaberry said. “Everyone made the plays and just brought the team together, got the motivation and ambition, and we finished the game.”
The Warriors’ second-half highlight was a 65-yard touchdown pass from Simon to Healy, which briefly halted the clock in the fourth quarter.
Western (0-4, 0-1) hosts Orange County (3-2, 1-1) next week. Louisa (3-1, 1-0) hits the road to take on Monticello (3-1, 1-0).