Knights’ balanced offense, tough defense corrals Buffaloes 28-19

River’s Addison McCaleb (58) reels in a Floyd County ball carrier in Saturday’s Three River District win. Photo by Ed McCoy

The James River football team bounced back from a tough loss to win a big game last Saturday afternoon. The Knights beat Floyd County, 28-19, in a game postponed from Friday due to inclement weather.

The week prior the Knights had lost for just the second time all season, 31-13 to Radford, in a game River coach Jake Phillips was not pleased with. This week he got a lot better effort from the Knights.

“It was a good bounce-back game,” he said. “We certainly didn’t play our best against Radford, allowing them to dictate a lot of things. You’re going to have a letdown sometimes and I was anxious to see how we’d answer this week. I was pleased, we did a lot of things well.”

Floyd scored first Saturday on a 64-yard run on fourth and one on their first possession of the game. However, River went up 21-7 by halftime as Luke Peay scored on a five-yard run, Coulter Hodges ran one in from seven yards out and then hit Daniel Holter with a 21-yard TD pass.

“Floyd hit some big plays on us, give them credit,” said Phillips. “They’re a lot better than their record (1-9) indicates. They’re a tough team.”

The Buffaloes battled back to cut the lead to 21-19 in the third quarter, missing an extra point kick and pass attempt, but the Knights put it away when Hodges found Holter again with a 20-yard TD pass. River then shut down the Buffs in the fourth quarter.

“They had 294 yards but 201 of them came on four plays,” noted Phillips.  “They had a fake punt for 27 yards, a 36-yard toss pass and a 74-yard pass where we had their quarterback scrambling.”

River had 395 yards of offense, 205 by land and 190 by air. Hodges completed 12 of 21 passes with two touchdowns and he ran for 49 yards and another score.

Peay carried 10 times for 86 yards and Dyllan McAllister had 14 carries for 73. River Clonch caught six passes for 89 yards, Holter had two for 41, both scores, McAllister had two catches for nine yards and Kevin Austin and Deacon Paivanas had one each for 30 and 21 yards, respectively.

On defense, Andrew Bridges led the Knights with 11 tackles, while Kevin Theimer, Addison McCaleb and Paivanas had eight each. Holter had seven, and River’s defense had seven tackles for losses as a team.

With the win, River improved to 7-2 on the season and they’ll wrap up the regular season Friday night with a home game against Carroll County.



Once the patsy of Southwest Virginia, Carroll County is no longer a team you can put in the win column before the game is played.

River will host the Cavaliers this Friday in their final game of the regular season. The Cavs come in at 3-6 but that’s already one more win than they had last season. Coach Jack Turner is well respected and he has the Cavaliers playing much better in his first year in charge.

“He’s really turned them around,” said River coach Jake Phillips. “They play a physical style and come right at you. It’s three yards and a cloud of dust. They run hard and they tackle well.”

The Cavaliers are Class 4 team but they’re in the Three Rivers District with Class 2 River. Traditionally they’ve been weak in football but they appear to be turning that around under Turner.

“I expect a playoff type atmosphere,” said Phillips. “It will be like their Super Bowl for them if they can beat us.”

River could use a win as well. The Knights are locked into the Region 2C playoffs but trying to climb as high as they can. They come in at fifth, and the top four gets home games.

“If everyone wins out as expected we’ll be fifth,” said Phillips.

Glenvar, Radford and Appomattox will be the top three in some order but River is hoping to pass Gretna for fourth. The Hawks play 4-5 Dan River this Friday. They’ll be favored, but you never know.

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