The Lord Botetourt defense stopped Northside in the red zone in the final minutes of the game last Friday to hold off the Vikings and take a 14-7 win in Daleville. With the win the Cavaliers are on the verge of an undefeated regular season as they host William Fleming this week.
The Botetourt-Northside rivalry has been a good one in recent years and Friday’s game lived up to the billing, with hard hitting on both sides and a game that went down to the wire. LB scored the only touchdown of the first half on a two-yard run by Hunter Rice, but the extra point kick was blocked and it was just 6-0 at the half.
The Cavaliers increased their lead to 14-0 in the third quarter on Rice’s second TD, this time on a 12-yard run, and Hunter scored a two-point conversion to give LB some temporary breathing room with about nine minutes remaining in the third quarter. However, the Vikings fought back and scored on a short run by Christian Fisher to make it 14-7 heading into the final quarter.
Northside controlled the battle of field position in the final stanza, but the Cavalier defense didn’t let them get into the end zone. On the Vikings’ final drive of the game Rice tipped a fourth down pass inside the 10 to kill the threat and seal the win for LB.
“It was a good win but it should have been 28-7,” said LB coach Jamie Harless. “It was a good football game. They have a lot of tough, talented kids, and it’s hard to beat someone with that many talented kids.”
Harless credited the LB offensive line for an outstanding game after a couple of sub-par performances, in his mind, in the weeks prior. The Cavaliers had 201 yards rushing as Rice ran for 177 yards on 32 carries.
“There were times when they were absolutely plowing,” said Harless of the line. “It was like someone let off a bomb. I’m very proud of the way they played, they grew up a lot this week.”
The Cavaliers only passed five times, completing three for 19 yards. The Vikings outgained LB overall, 269 to 220, as Northside coach Scott Fisher’s son, Christian, had 28 carries for 203 yards and three receptions for 16 more despite playing with a shoulder injury.
With the win LB locked up the number one seed for the Region 3D playoffs, which begin a week from Friday. The Cavaliers are 9-0 with a rating of 26.3 while second place Magna Vista is 7-2 and well behind at 26.3. Northside is third.
“I think, mathematically, we’ve clinched the top spot,” said Harless. “That’s important because you always want to play at home. When you go on the road a lot of factors come into play.
“We earned it,” he continued. “We beat Franklin County and Northside the past two weeks, and that’s a pretty tough combination.”
Harless’ only regret is that senior Evan Eller, a two-way standout who is out for the season with a knee injury, isn’t on the field for the stretch run.
“My heart breaks for him,” said Harless. “He was the state Defensive Player of the Year last year and he worked so hard to get to that point. To see him on the sideline, it’s tough to watch.”