The James River football team broke into the win column last Friday night when the Knights returned from Madison County with a 20-8 win. It was also the first win for Tim Jennings as head coach.

“I was happy for the kids,” said Jennings. “We had a good week of practice and it was a real team effort.”

River played the second half without two of the Knights’ top offensive players. Quarterback Dyllan McAllister injured his heel in a season-opening loss at Stuarts Draft and did not play. He was replaced by junior Aaron Bridges at quarterback.

Then, River’s top running back, senior Luke Peay, went out with a knee injury and did not return. Peay was a workhorse up to that point, gaining 79 yards on 15 carries and scoring River’s first touchdown. Kevin Austin, a tight end and linebacker, was also out.

“We had three seniors on the sideline,” said Jennings. “That’s the way football is. It’s the ‘next man up’ mentality.”

River had a 14-0 lead by the half on touchdowns by Peay, in the first quarter, and sophomore Hunter Forbes in the second period. The Mountaineers cut the lead to 14-8 in the third quarter but River answered with a one yard run by Jake Compton to make it a two-possession advantage and the Knights’ defense did the rest.

“Our offensive and defensive lines were able to control the line of scrimmage, which was something we didn’t do the week before,” said Jennings.

River outgained Madison on the ground, 166 to 96. Forbes rushed for 46 yards and Compton for 15, mostly after Peay went out. Bridges was four for 15 passing for 43 yards. Austin Miller had two receptions.

On defense, Kevin Theimer led River with 12 total tackles, including six solos. Addison McCaleb had eight total and Adam Bridges had seven. Theimer and Bridges both had interceptions.

The win gave River a split of two tough road games to open the season. The Knights will be home this Friday to host Parry McCluer.