Cavalier football turns it on in second half to beat William Byrd in region quarterfinal

Lord Botetourt got off to a slow start but finished fast as the Cavaliers won their football playoff opener last Friday night. The Cavaliers beat William Byrd, 29-7, in the Region 3D quarterfinal round in Daleville.

Botetourt, the undefeated top seed in the region, was a heavy favorite to beat Blue Ridge District rival William Byrd, who came in at 3-7 as the eighth seed. LB had dispatched of Byrd by a 41-7 score when they met in Vinton during the regular season, running back the opening kickoff and never looking back. This time, however, the Terriers had them in a dogfight for at least the first half.

“A couple of holding penalties and some turnovers hurt us,” said LB coach Jamie Harless. “We should have been up 28-0 at the half. We played a lot better on defense in the second half.”

Botetourt drew first blood on a five-yard run by Hunter Rice, but on the Cavaliers’ next possession Byrd’s Josh Moore scooped up a fumble and ran it in from 20 yards out to tie the score. That was all the scoring in the half, as an apparent touchdown pass by the Terriers was negated by an offensive pass interference call on the receiver.

The Cavaliers went to work in the second half, as James-Ryan Salvi hooked up with Dalton Breese for a 60-yard TD that regained the lead for Botetourt at 14-7. Rice broke free for a 32-yard TD run for a 21-7 lead, and Botetourt put some icing on the cake when Rice passed to Salvi on a “throw back” score from four yards out. Hunter then ran for a two-point conversion to account for the final score.

“That was a Jeff Highfill play,” said Harless, referring to the long-time Byrd coach who retired after last season. “He always had some kind of play like that he would pull out at an opportune moment. That was reminiscent of Jeff.”

With that Salvi had the rare trifecta of throwing a touchdown pass, catching a touchdown pass and intercepting an opponent’s pass in the same game. Salvi was seven for 10 passing on the night for 172 yards. Rice, who appears to be fully recovered from a serious ankle injury that forced him to miss five games, ran for 263 yards on 34 carries.

With the win LB improved to 11-0 on the season and will host Hidden Valley this Friday in the Region 3D semifinals.

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