Road Warriors Spoil Colonials' Homecoming
By DAVID BREIDENBACH, Correspondent
Oct 8, 2012, 12:19
Colonial Heights senior DreQuan Ivery steps around a Matoaca defender during a Central District game on Friday (photo by David Breidenbach).
COLONIAL HEIGHTS — When Colonial Heights coach Remus James looks back at the past four games, he sees a team that has struggled to bring home a win. The latest example came on Friday night in a 26-6 homecoming loss to visiting Matoaca.
The score was tied at six at the intermission, and it would be easy to blame the losses on other things. Certainly there has been a bad play here or there, or a special teams mistake, or just plain not having enough athletes; but James is quick to shoulder the responsibility for those shortcomings.
“We need to be able to close out games. We need to play through the adversity, and we need to finish drives,” James said. “Some of that is working with the players, but it rests at the top.”
Much of what made the first half close on Friday was Matoaca’s inability to sustain drives in the early going. One shining point for the Colonials has been their defensive play, especially from Kevin Loftus, Robert Dubberly, Deonte Jenkins, and QuainShawn Owens.
But playing good defense often isn’t enough to get a win. At some point, the Colonials have to put points on the board.
After stopping the home team on three plays to start the game, Matoaca scored on its opening drive and that was it for the half.
The team moved the ball behind running back Scott Shook and worked its way down to the Colonials’ four-yard line midway through the quarter. Brandon Brown hauled in a 20-yard pass from Brandon Starke for the score with 7:26 on the clock to make the score 6-0.
Matoaca lined up to kick the extra point, but Jenkins was able to swat the attempt out of the air.
Neither team could do much for almost the rest of the half. Matoaca thwarted many of its own drives with penalties, miscues and a series of fumbles. At times, it was five yards forward and 10 yards back for the Warriors, and the Colonials had just enough defense to make the missteps hurt.
“Our biggest thing is we were beating ourselves; we were getting some big plays and then coming out and shooting ourselves in the foot,” Matoaca Coach Pat Manuel said. “We turned it around in the second half, but we were still making a lot of mistakes. We’ve got young kids, but there’s still no excuse for it. They are going to get it right, I assure you of that.”
Still, Colonial Heights was unable to do much better.
Whenever the home team seemed to have an opportunity to mount a drive, Matoaca’s defense would step in and squash any chance the Colonials had to move forward.
Several times it looked like the Colonials might sustain a drive on a second or third down with less than five yards to go, but Matoaca would blitz or just rush past the Colonials’ offensive line and quarterback Brian Gwaltney was left hung out to dry.
Gwaltney was able to spin out of some of those situations and make big plays, but other times the defense was able to make a big play instead. James appreciates his quarterback’s aggressive play, but said that third and 18 is much harder to convert than third and eight.
With a bit more than 10 minutes left in the second quarter, the Colonials got the ball and set out on their only scoring drive of the night.
The drive was aided by a long pass interference call that gave the Colonials a prime opportunity to score. On fourth and one from the 11, Gwaltney ran a quarterback draw and sprung free for nine yards. On first down, the Colonials opted for a quick hitter between the tackle and guard.
This time Christopher Charleston took the handoff and bolted through the defensive line. Several Matoaca players tried to grab Charleston, but no one got hold of him until he was two yards into the end zone.
The Warriors returned the favor and blocked the Colonials’ extra point attempt, leaving the score knotted at six apiece.
Manuel’s half-time talk worked on Matoaca’s first drive of the third quarter. Shook finally got his running game going and tight end Brandon Brown grabbed a crossing pass that gained more than 20 yards. On a short-yardage play, Corbin Ramos managed to slip loose to make the score 12-6. The two-point conversion attempt failed.
The Colonials started moving the ball on the next series via the pass. Gwaltney scrambled to his right and found Owens in the flat for about eight yards. On the next play, Gwaltney looked to the left and connected with Dontavia Shaw for a first down at the 47-yard line. But Matoaca’s defense stiffened and the Colonials were forced to punt.
On the ensuing possession, Ramos got the first carry for Matoaca, broke between the tackles, cut to the right and gained 15 yards for a first down. On third and one from the 10, Matoaca carried the ball down to the one, but was whistled for a penalty.
Matoaca attempted a fade to the right corner of the end zone which failed, but the Colonials were called for pass interference. That gave Matoaca the ball on the three-yard line.
The Warriors tried a pitch sweep left, but the runner never secured the ball and the Colonials recovered the subsequent fumble at the 15-yard line to end the threat.
Matoaca stopped Colonial Heights on the next drive and nearly returned the punt for a touchdown. But an illegal block put the ball on the Colonials 30-yard line.
Jordan Reyes got eight yards on the first carry, making it second and two from the 21. Shook took the next carry around the right side for an 11-yard gain.
On the next play, Shook bolted to the right for a nine-yard touchdown with penalty flags falling everywhere. The touchdown counted as the referees called offsetting personal fouls. The extra point gave the Warriors a two-score lead at 19-6.
The Warriors stopped the Colonials again on the next series, driving them back to their own 15. Matoaca blocked the resulting punt into the end zone and recovered the ball for a touchdown. The extra point provided the final margin.