Jaylen Alexander raced 65 yards on the first play from scrimmage as Orange County rolled to its third Jefferson District win in four weeks by a 50-7 margin over visiting Monticello.
“Jaylen’s a workhorse,” said Orange coach Jesse Lohr of the Hornets’ senior running back, who surpassed 1,000 yards for the season and 5,000 for his career with 213 yards on just 17 carries. “He runs in there against loaded boxes night in, night out, and he’s never complained. I’m proud of who he is and where he’s going.”
Alexander propelled OC’s offense with two more first half touchdown runs from 24 and 49 yards, while the Hornet defense thwarted three promising second quarter drives by Monticello. First, senior defensive lineman Ricardo Flores-Umana chased down MHS quarterback Malachi Fields on a fourth down run after he had passed the chains, dislodging the ball for Rebel Fretwell to recover. Junior defensive back Doug Newsome intercepted Chase Hummel’s pass in the endzone to halt the next drive in Hornet territory. Finally, after the Mustangs advanced to first-and-goal at the 1 on their final possession of the first half, the defense stuffed two runs and disrupted two pass plays for a turnover on downs, thereby sending OC into the break up 30-0.
“We did a good job tonight of rallying to the football,” said Lohr. “Our 3-4 scheme at times can look like a 3-man box that drops eight; at times, it can look like a 5-man line. Then we bring guys out of the secondary or linebackers blitzing, so the defense can do a lot of different things. Those guys down there on the goal line stand made a good play; there’s nothing cute about it besides just playing some football and holding their ground.”
The Hornets’ offense averaged an impressive 10.3 yards per play as it outgained Monticello 474-237. With Alexander and sophomore Paul Poirier picking up chunks on the ground, senior quarterback Walker Johnson led an effective passing attack that delivered three touchdowns. Johnson completed 7-of-9 for 166 yards despite being sidelined for most of the second quarter after a hard sack. Poirier tallied OC’s fourth first-half touchdown with a 15-yard run midway through the period and Siboniso Mthethwa followed it up by passing to Jireek Washington for the two-point conversion.
Still, Lohr will have plenty to address as the game tape will also feature 10 penalties. Personal fouls on consecutive plays late in the first quarter cost the Hornets two touchdowns.
“They come out here each and every week and just fight and play with passion,” Lohr said. “Sometimes its gets us the penalty flags, but most of the time it’s just playing with raw emotion.”
Monticello got on the board after receiving the second half kickoff and driving 64 yards in seven plays. Fields connected with Tony Frazier for a 37-yard score. With the Mustangs down three offensive linemen, its top two running backs, and a receiver, coach Jeff Lloyd had to get creative with the offensive gameplan.
“We tried about everything,” Lloyd said of Monticello’s efforts to get Fields the ball with some space as a passer, runner, or receiver. “He’s a really talented kid. You watch film and you know he is our offense.”
Chase Hummel shifted to quarterback with some regularity and completed a pair of passes for 26 yards, both to Fields. The duo also combined for a 33-yard trick play where Hummel pitched to Fields who ran wide before launching a pass back across to Hummel. Fields led the Mustangs with 54 yards on nine rushes and completed eight passes for 158 yards; all together, he accounted for 238 total yards, exceeding the team’s net total by one.
“Malachi Fields is a heck of an athlete,” said Lohr. “He’s just a special guy and we had to be smart about where he was on the field at all times. Coach Ferguson and his defensive staff and players executed a really good gameplan of understanding where he was and rallying to the football.”
Orange answered Monticello’s third quarter touchdown with three more of its own. Johnson, who returned at quarterback in the second half, hit Alexander on a middle screen that ended up going 40 yards for a touchdown.
“Teams bite on the run a lot, so we tried to hit them by letting them come in, and I just slipped through,” said Alexander.
The defense struck again as Newsome made his second pick of the night and setup the Hornets at the MHS 45. Johnson promptly hit Mthethwa for a catch-and-run touchdown to make it 43-7 and establish a running clock. Johnson rounded out the scoring on OC’s next possession with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Washington.
“Orange is a big, physical football team, and with a lack of kids to put in the game, it kind of wore on us,” Lloyd said.
Monticello (1-7, 1-3) hosts its final home game next Friday against Charlottesville. Meanwhile, Orange (3-5, 3-1) will look to continue its march back to .500 after a bye week when it hosts Fluvanna for Senior Night at Porterfield Park.