James River’s hopes for a spot in the Region 2C playoffs are on life support as the Knights head to Radford for their regular season finale Thursday night. River has to pull off a big upset and hope some other things fall their way or their season is over.
River is currently 10th in the Virginia High School League Region 2C ratings with the top eight making the playoffs. They need to climb over Chatham and Gretna to make the top eight, but they just may be able to do that if they can upset 8-1 Radford, the top-rated team in the region. A win over the Bobcats would give River a ton of points.
“I think there may be a sliver of hope if we win Thursday,” said River coach Tim Jennings. “I think some other pieces have to fall into place as well, we need some help. But, just like last week, we have to take care of business.”
The Knights dropped a 28-7 game at home against Carroll County last week and that was a killer. The Cavaliers led 21-0 at the half and River didn’t score until just under six minutes remained in the game when Connor Church scored on a 27-yard pass play from Zeal Hammons.
“We came out a little flat on defense against Carroll,” said Jennings. “ After the first couple of series, we leveled out and started playing pretty well. Unfortunately, they jumped on us 14-0 and we were trying to claw back in.”
River had four turnovers that really hurt their chances: a fumble and three interceptions.
“It’s next to impossible to win with that many,” said Jennings. “However, the kids played extremely hard. It was a physical game and they never quit.”
Carroll had 360 yards of total offense to 234 for the Knights. River had just 49 yards rushing, topped by Brian Moran with 26 yards on three carries. Hammons was 14 for 23 passing for 185 yards but the three picks hurt. Jake Benson had 45 yards on six receptions, Moran had four catches for 39 yards, and Trey Taylor had two catches for 65 yards.
On defense, Gabe Staton led with 18 tackles followed by John Austin with 17, and Benson with 15. Staton had three tackles for losses.
The defeat dropped River to 3-6 overall. As mentioned, this week’s game is being played on Thursday and it’s at Radford. The Bobcats were undefeated until losing to Glenvar, 37-34, on the last play of the game last Friday.
“Radford is good, obviously, since that was their first loss of the season,” said Jennings. “We have a good game plan prepared, but it is a short week and we need to maximize our reps in practice to put our best foot forward on Thursday.”
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