Madison County enjoyed a strong second quarter in Friday night’s Homecoming tilt with Nelson County. In particular, Matt Lewis really enjoyed the first two minutes of it.
After the Governors tied the game 7-7 on the first play of the period, Lewis gathered the ensuing kickoff (after a slight mishandle) at his own 1 and dashed 99 yards to reclaim the lead. Back on the field with the defense three plays later, Lewis scooped a fumble and returned it 25 yards to setup his offense at the Nelson 11. That led to a Jamar Turner touchdown run, and the Mountaineers never looked back from there. Madison scored the last 48 points of the game and dispatched their southern Route 29 neighbors by a final of 55-7.
“He had a great all-around game,” said Madison coach Chandler Rhoads of his junior receiver and defensive back. “He made plays on special teams, offense, and defense. When you’ve got a guy who can play like that, it really helps.”
Nelson, to their credit, kept things in check at 21-7 for most of the second quarter. After their next possession ended on an interception by Mountaineers’ sophomore defensive back Jaisiah Warren, which he returned into the redzone yet again, the Governors’ defense held for a four-and-out. The offense mounted a nice drive but could not overcome multiple penalties once in Madison territory. When the Mountaineer offense was threatening inside the 10 on its next possession, senior defensive lineman Charles Tibbs recovered a fumble. Nelson then took the clock down to 0:12 before turning it over on downs in Madison territory. However, one snap was all it took, as Elijah Lewis dialed up play action and fired on-target to junior receiver Almus Davis behind the secondary for a 57-yard catch-and-run touchdown, sending the Mountaineers into the break with a 28-7 lead and a surge of momentum.
“Situational awareness in moments like that is key,” said Nelson County coach Matt Hicks. “We’re working with a great group of young guys trying to learn how to play the game. As coaches, we’re realizing all of the situational stuff we talk about has to be repeated time and again to be successful.”
Nelson’s defense came up with a second turnover in the middle of the third quarter to thwart a Madison drive in Governors’ territory, but once again could not turn it into points. After a shanked punt, the Mountaineers focused on their ground attack to drive 50 yards in nine plays, with their junior quarterback scoring on a 1-yard keeper. Lewis then added his third and fourth passing touchdowns, 55 and 35 yards to sophomore Nicholas Messineo and Almus Davis, respectively, on Madison’s two fourth quarter possessions. Senior defensive back Christian Rosado also pitched in with a 28-yard pick-six.
“At the end of the day, players gotta make plays, and we had a couple guys make them,” Rhoads said. “Elijah Lewis made a couple great throws. Almus Davis had a great catch right before halftime.”
The Governors opened the game by receiving the kickoff and embarking on a 14-play drive, which yielded no points. Madison got on the board at the end of its opening 11-play sequence with a 3-yard pass from Lewis to Messineo. Nelson tied the game on an 11-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Brice Wilson to senior receiver Devante Rose. Rose made two highlight-reel catches earlier in the drive as he dove along the sideline.
“I think there were times where we made some really big and special plays throughout the first half,” said Hicks. “We’ve got to learn how to make the next play at least an average play. It’s just executing on a consistent basis. When penalties get you in third-and-long, it’s pretty easy to know what we’re going to do on offense and play against us.”
Madison (2-4, 1-0) resumes Bull Run District action next week with a tall order as it heads to Central-Woodstock (6-0, 1-0). Nelson (2-5) travels to Massanutten Military for a Saturday afternoon contest.