Top-seeded Lafayette ends Wildcats’ run

By Martin O’Brien

For The Northern Virginia Daily

JAMES CITY — Warren County’s terrific drive to start the game ended in disaster and things got worse from there, as the Wildcats fell 63-7 to host Lafayette on Friday in the second round of the 3A East Region football playoffs.

Casey Stewart made had two spectacular receptions for 61 yards among his three receptions on the first series of the game. But Lafayette (12-0) — No. 1-ranked team in Virginia Preps state 3A rankings — blocked a field goal and returned it for a touchdown.

The passing game proved to be the only bright spot for the Wildcats (8-4) as Butler completed seven passes for 153 yards, with Stewart catching four passes for 87 yards and Blake Steele two for 49. But the Rams were otherwise spectacular in all three phases.

“Offensively at one point I think we had 16 plays and five touchdowns,” Lafayette head coach Andy Linn said, although it was really six TDs in those 16 plays. “That’s pretty efficient.

“Defensively, other than the long passes, we shut them down. We took their 1,300-yard running back (Demetrus Yates: 12 carries, 2 yards) and put him out.

“Special teams we blocked a field goal for a touchdown that was the key to the game, then two series later we blocked a punt and were off the races.”

To summarize further, William and Mary-bound Jahlil Green carried nine times for 180 yards and six touchdowns. Those six scores were a single-game school record and his 34 rushing TDs a single-season school record.

“It’s means a lot, but it’s all on the linemen,” said Green, who needs 67 yards rushing in the 3A state quarterfinals next Saturday against James Monroe to get to 2,000 yards for the season, and another 90 after that to break the single-season school rushing record.

There was no evidence on the opening series of the game that the Rams were poised for one of the most dominant first halves in their 40-year history. Austin Butler completed three passes to Casey Stewart for 61 yards as Warren drove to the Lafayette 6.

But the Rams defense stiffened as Darren Patton dropped Yates for a 4-yard loss — one of 16 times in 28 rushing attempts the Wildcats had negative yardage — setting the stage two plays later for Blake Steele’s 25-yard field goal attempt that totally changed the momentum. Brendan McGinty blocked the kick try and Joey Kraegenbrink grabbed the loose ball on the bounce and ran 84 yards for a touchdown to give Lafayette a 7-0 lead.

The rest of the half was one big offensive, defensive and special teams play after another for the Rams. Two plays after McGinty intercepted a pass at midfield, Green ran 34 yards for a touchdown to break the single season school record with his 29th rushing TD.

Patton struck again moments later, blocking a Warren County punt to give the Rams the ball at the 19. Green, a William and Mary recruit, ran 19 yards for touchdown No. 30 two plays later and the Rams led 21-0 after a quarter.

Brandon Villanueva-Pernell’s interception gave the Rams the ball at the Wildcats 32. That led to Green’s 9-yard TD run early in the second quarter.

Blake Guminsky and Harris had consecutive sacks to force a Wildcats punt. Lafayette needed just six plays to negotiate the 65 yards to paydirt, with a 35-yard run by Green setting up Schekel Wallace’s 2-yard touchdown burst.

Time for more Patton. The Lafayette linebacker forced a Butler fumble recovered at the 28 by linebacker Deacon Smith, who was also stellar defensively in the first half.

Green ran 28 yards for a TD on the next play and, two plays after intercepting a pass, ran 44 yards for a touchdown to give Lafayette a 49-0 halftime lead. His next TD run, for three yards early in the third quarter, put him ahead of the single game school record for touchdowns.

“We expect to do this every week,” Green said. “It all starts with preparation: you beat the other team before you step onto the field.”