Hopewell Scores Early, Routs Colonial Heights
By JACOB VAUGHAN, Sports Editor
Oct 15, 2012, 12:21
Hopewell junior Jarvezz Brown-Taylor (2) carries the ball as Colonial Heights’ Nicholas Keene (11) and Trevor Schoot (55) defend. Hopewell scored twice in the first quarter and cruised to a 28-7 Central District victory at Merner Field on Friday (photo by Jacob Vaughan).
HOPEWELL – First-year Colonial Heights football coach Remus James watched as his team sustained a 28-7 loss to Hopewell on Friday and saw in the victors a team not unlike his own.
The Blue Devils – senior-laden and gelling with every game – are simply a little further along than the winless Colonials, he said.
“[Hopewell coach] Ricky Irby has a great team over there,” James said. “They’re going to do some things this year. He’s got a couple years under his belt, but we’re trying to get where he is now.”
That’s one game out of first place in the Central District standings and contending for a spot in the Group AAA Division 5 playoffs, to be specific.
The Blue Devils scored on their second offensive play against the Colonials and never looked back, treating a boisterous crowd at Merner Field to a homecoming victory in a contest that forced both teams to opt for their fourth-string quarterbacks.
In Week 5, Hopewell toppled Thomas Dale with a finishing spurt that yielded two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Against the Colonials, it was the Blue Devils’ lightning-fast start that proved decisive.
Senior quarterback Octavious Taylor and Tabyus Taylor – the same duo that produced the game-winning touchdown one week earlier – combined to open the scoring with 10 minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Octavious Taylor took the snap and threw a screen pass in Tabyus Taylor’s direction. The 6-1, 195-pound wide receiver hauled it in near the line of scrimmage and meandered his way 25 yards through a crowded Colonial Heights defensive secondary and into the end zone.
“I just decided when I got it that I wasn’t going down,” Tabyus Taylor said. “I knew I wanted to score, that’s what was in my mind.”
The Blue Devils nearly doubled the early advantage on their next possession, but the Colonials forced and recovered a fumble near the goal line to end the threat. The visitors didn’t get far, however, before Hopewell linebacker Moses Tolbert returned the favor.
The sophomore pushed his way into the backfield and disrupted a quarterback option, forcing a fumble that Tyler Smith recovered to give the Blue Devils first and goal from the Colonials’ five-yard line. Junior running back Gabe Dupree scampered in on the next play to give Hopewell a 14-0 lead after just under 10 minutes of play.
“That was very important,” Irby said of the fast start. “Anytime you can score early, it gives you momentum.”
The one-sided action gave way to a more balanced contest in a scoreless second quarter.
Despite struggling to develop an offensive rhythm, the Colonials stiffened on defense. With Octavious Taylor sidelined by a calf injury, the Blue Devils missed a field goal, fumbled for a second time and threw an interception on their final three drives of the first half.
“If we’re going to be where we want to be at the end of the year, we’ve got to get a handle on these turnovers,” Irby said.
The defensive resurgence left James lamenting the Colonials’ slow start.
“Our defense has been playing hard every week,” James said. “They keep us in every game, so if we don’t give up those two early touchdowns, it is a different game.”
The Blue Devils were forced to punt in the first possession of the third quarter but were gifted a scoring opportunity when the Colonials fumbled on their first play from scrimmage.
Just as he did in the first half, Tabyus Taylor struck two plays later from 25 yards out. This time the junior wrong-footed his defender with a stutter step at the line of scrimmage and corralled a pass from Trent Scott for his fifth touchdown reception of the season.
Scott, a junior varsity call-up, shared quarterbacking duties with multi-faceted senior Reggie Butler in Octavious Taylor’s absence. The touchdown toss, the first of Scott’s varsity career, gave Hopewell a 21-0 edge with 9:22 remaining in the third quarter.
Colonial Heights also was forced to field a quarterback-by-committee approach. Starter Brian Gwaltney limped out of the game late in the first half and second stringer Isiah Deisma left in the third quarter with an elbow injury. Senior Robert Dubberly and Quainshawn Owens filled the void for the duration of the second half.
The result was a lack of offensive cohesiveness for both teams. Colonial Heights continued to struggle to move the ball while Hopewell committed one untimely penalty after another.
In all, the Blue Devils were whistled for 13 infractions and docked 105 yards.
“That frustrates me to no end," Irby said. "Because I know we’re a more disciplined football team than that.”
Owens managed to score the Colonials’ only touchdown of the night with 3:20 remaining in the third quarter, but he did not start the play under center. Rather, the 6-3, 190-pound junior made the breakthrough by blocking a punt, scooping up the loose ball and diving into the end zone to cut the deficit to 21-7.
But Tolbert ensured the effort was too little, too late with just under seven minutes left to play. On fourth and one, he took a handoff and plowed his way through several would-be tacklers en route to a 21-yard touchdown that restored the three-score lead and provided the final margin.
The four offensive touchdowns are the most the Colonials have conceded all season.
“They played us very tough,” Irby said. “I thought coach James had a great game plan for how they were going to stop us. His kids played hard, I give them credit.”
The win moves the Blue Devils to 3-1 in district play, 4-2 overall. Hopewell is next in action on Friday against Matoaca.
Colonial Heights (0-3, 0-6) is still looking for its first win under James’ leadership, but James said he sees improvement with every game. Patience, he said, will be key as the team tries to change the culture of the program.
“You can see it in the way they play,” Irby said of the Colonials. “They play tough until the final whistle. We have a veteran group of kids that we’ve had for a while with quite a few seniors. I think [James] is playing some young guys, but they’re going to get there."