Bounce Back: Orange County beats Culpeper on the road

Hitting the road on a short week after a lopsided loss in their home opener, Orange County wasn’t concerned about style points as they rolled into Broman Field at Culpeper County.


Senior running back Christian Simpson tallied two first-half touchdowns and the Hornets’ defense and special teams provided key momentum swings as Orange delivered career victory number one for head coach Colston Bayless by an 18-8 margin over the Blue Devils.


“I’ll take an ugly win over a pretty loss any day,” said Bayless as his squad had to overcome at least 15 accepted penalties that cost 126 yards and nullified three touchdown-scoring plays. “That was unbelievable, but we responded and still moved the ball and took care of business.”


Simpson led a four-back rushing attack that drained 12 and a half minutes of clock time after Culpeper got on the board via quarterback Jeremiah Johnson’s 1-yard sneak, plus a two-point conversion from Je’Q Williams, with 3:45 left in the third quarter. 


“We’ve got to be able to capitalize and get those first downs on crucial third downs,” said Simpson. “That’s the ground-and-pound Coach Bayless talks about.”


The Blue Devils’ offense only had one series in the fourth quarter. After advancing from their own 19 to the OC 43 in six plays, the Hornets swarmed Williams on a fourth-and-3 carry, stopping him two yards shy of the stick.


“I’m really happy with how we stood up to the run,” said Bayless. “In the second half, they went to the trap and the belly and that hurt us a little bit, but we bent and didn’t break.”


Culpeper is also implementing a new system with former Charlottesville coach Eric Sherry now at the helm.


“Effort-wise, couldn’t be prouder,” said Sherry. “Kids played their tails off. When you’re teaching option football, it takes time when you’re starting brand new. You’re kind of impatient and want to go quicker, but I do see the difference.”


Orange made the Blue Devil offense wait for most of the first quarter to even set foot on the field. The Hornets received the opening kickoff and marched down the field, with Simpson capping a 4:14 drive with a 22-yard touchdown run. Jeremiah Whorton ran in for two on the conversion to make it 8-0. Then Bayless dialed up some trickery that was perfectly-executed by the kickoff unit.


“Perfect onside kick– we’ve got a young lady, Keller Hines, kicking for us and she’s doing a great job,” Bayless said.


Orange was knocking on the door of the redzone again before a flurry of yellow laundry sent them all the way back across midfield. The Hornets had to punt after failing to convert a third-and-48.


Culpeper finally took the field with 1:49 left in the opening quarter and began a 10-play drive down to OC’s 10 yardline before defensive tackle JJ Garrett recovered an errant snap.


Later in the second quarter, Culpeper’s second offensive series went in reverse due to a holding penalty and sack. Forced to punt, the snap sailed high back into the endzone, where the punter managed to recover for just a safety. Orange started at midfield after a flag snuffed out a long return of the ensuing free kick. The Hornets used 12 plays and drained the remaining 5:08 of the half as Simpson broke across the plane from two yards out as the horn sounded. CJ Loveless tacked on another two-point conversion to make it 18-0.


“It was pretty obvious last week that we were only 19 practices in, and another week of practice, we’re getting a little better,” said Bayless. “We want to run the ball and be a physical team, and I’m definitely happy with how we ran it today.”


After the break, Culpeper started with a quick three-and-out while Orange advanced to the door of the redzone in just three plays. But then defensive back Jordan Evans intercepted quarterback Darius Holmes’s pass just in front of the goal line and returned it out to the 11. That set the stage for the Blue Devils’ lone but impressive scoring drive of the night, stretching 12 plays.


Orange (1-1) hits the road again next Friday for its Jefferson District opener against Goochland (0-1, vs. Collegiate on 9/1).