Cavaliers roll into regional final by upending coach’s high school alma mater

Hunter Rice finds room to run in the red zone.
Photo by Brian Hoffman

There was no love lost between Lord Botetourt football coach Jamie Harless and his alma mater last Saturday night when the Cavaliers and Abingdon met on the gridiron. LB prevailed, 63-27, in a game where the visitors went down fighting, literally.

The game took on an ugly tone in the fourth quarter as several frustrated Abingdon players lost their cool in the waning minutes. The Falcons had nine penalties in the game, including several personal fouls that put a damper on an otherwise entertaining game at William Byrd’s Patterson Stadium. The game was played in Vinton as LB’s field was unplayable after several days of hard rain.

“It was unfortunate, I hate to see that kind of stuff,” said LB coach Harless, an Abingdon graduate who still has friends in the area. “They have some good ball players. They were strong on the line.”

Much of the frustration on the Abingdon side likely came from LB’s domination between the lines. The Cavaliers led 28-0 after the first quarter and, for all intents and purposes, the game was over at that point.

“I felt pretty comfortable after the first quarter,” said Harless. “It’s always good to get off to a fast start.”

Botetourt scored 28 points in the first quarter for the third week in a row, having previously done so in the final week of the regular season against William Fleming and the first playoff game against Christiansburg. It was also the third week in a row the Cavaliers offense surpassed 60 points, having scored 68 against Fleming and 62 against Christiansburg the previous two weeks.

The Cavaliers ran wild behind their big line once again. Botetourt ran for 390 yards, including 191 yards by Hunter Rice on 23 carries and 162 by Evan Eller on 14 carries. Eller, Preston Martin and James-Ryan Salvi all played some quarterback.

“I think it makes it tougher for teams to defend us when they don’t know who is going to be back there,” said Harless. “It’s hard enough to prepare for one quarterback. It creates an issue on defense.”

Botetourt passed the ball just five times, completing three with each of the quarterbacks having one completion each. Jake Dewease caught all three, including a 42-yard touchdown reception from Eller and a 44-yard TD reception from Salvi, both in the first quarter. Jake also had two interceptions in the game, and LB’s Braden Breese had a pick in the end zone. Dewease has eight interceptions for the season.

Rice ran for five touchdowns. He had TD runs of three and eight yards in the first half and two, one and three yards in the second, with the final touchdown giving LB a 36-point lead and a continuously running clock.

Abingdon’s passing game gave the Cavaliers a little trouble, as the Falcons completed 14 of 27 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns. However, the game was never in doubt after the first quarter as Abingdon never got closer than 22 points after the opening period.

“I thought we continued to get better on offense,” said Harless. “We had some breakdown in technique on the long passes but that’s something we can work on.

“Overall I was pleased with how we played.”

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