The 2022 football season got off to a rough start for the James River Knights last Friday. Buffalo Gap ran back the season-opening kickoff for a touchdown and the Bison went on to take a 35-7 win over the Knights in Swoope, Va.
It was a game very similar to last year, when the Bison took a 30-7 win in Springwood. River’s Ben Bailey ran back the opening kickoff in that game but that was all the offense the Knights could muster.
“They remembered that and didn’t kick deep to us one time Friday night,” said River coach Tim Jennings. “We got the ball near midfield every time they kicked off but couldn’t take advantage.”
River answered the opening score with a six-play drive that culminated in a Connor Church touchdown with 10:02 remaining in the first period. However, River failed to cross the goal line for the rest of the game despite some opportunities.
“We left 21 points on the board,” said Jennings. “We had first and goal at the five and couldn’t score, and then Connor had a 75-yard run and we had first and goal at the four and didn’t score. Give them credit, but we had our chances.”
Church finished with 175 yards rushing on 18 carries to lead the Knights. The passing game struggled as Zeal Hammons was just three for 16 passing with three interceptions. Brian Moran had all three receptions for a total of 30 yards.
On defense Jake Benson led the Knights with 15 tackles while Colin Cook had a dozen, Levi Rock had nine, John Austin had eight and Keegan Mundy had seven. Austin had a tackle for a loss, Benson had a pass breakup and Benson and George Toliver both had fumble recoveries.
The Knights had a hard time stopping the Bison rushing attack, as Buffalo Gap more than doubled River’s total, 401-396. Dylan Alphin of Buffalo Gap had 15 carries for 231 yards himself as the Bison had 17 first downs by the run.
“We never could get a stop,” said Jennings. “And we had too many stupid penalties.”
The Knights will get a chance to work on that for two weeks as they have their bye week this Friday. It’s early for a bye but Jennings is looking on the bright side.
“I’m not a fan of it but we can use it right now,” he said.
The Knights will return to action September 9 at Parry McCluer.