By Davin Wilson / Scrimmage Play Correspondent
A bright full moon settled in over J.T. Christopher Stadium in Danville before the start of George Washington and Western Albemarle’s Region 4D semifinal matchup Friday night.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, it was the Eagles who ended up celebrating under that full moon as No. 2 GW cruised past Western Albemarle 40-8 on Friday night.
The loss brings an end to the third-seeded Warriors’ season along with their four-game winning streak since the loss to Louisa back in October.
Football can be a game of bounces and they worked against Western Albemarle (10-2) from the start of the game. After a long return on the opening kickoff gave the Warriors the ball in Eagles territory, GW’s defense knocked the ball loose and sophomore Kamori Dixon pounced on the loose ball for a 53-yard score that shot the Eagles to the early lead.
Proving the hot start wasn’t a fluke, GW’s defense struck again on the first play of Western Albemarle’s following drive, forcing a fumble that senior Will Daniel picked up to give the Eagles their second turnover in as many plays.
GW head coach Nick Anderson and his staff mixed up personnel on the Eagles’ following drive, turning to senior Donnie Davis who broke loose for a 37-yard run that moved GW into the red zone. Senior Jakobe Dixon did the rest of the work, following with a 4-yard touchdown run that gave the Eagles a quick two-score lead.
Continuing his big night, Daniel got involved on the offensive end, hauling in a pass from senior quarterback Jeb Byrnes that moved the ball down to the Warriors’ 2-yard line. Jakobe continued his blue-collar effort on the following play, punching the clock for his second score of the contest to give GW (9-1) a 20-0 lead with just over four minutes left in the half.
Kamori closed out the second-quarter scoring with a 13-yard touchdown reception that gave the Eagles a 26-point cushion with time running out in the first half.
Western Albemarle found its offensive rhythm on its following drive, picking up a pair of first downs before senior Tamarion Hawkins ended the Warriors’ possession with an interception, GW’s third of the half.
The Eagles took a 26-0 lead into the break.
Jakobe started the second half in big fashion when he capped off his hat trick with a 7-yard touchdown run that capped GW’s opening possession and made it a 33-point game with 9:42 remaining in the third quarter.
Another strong kickoff return gave the Warriors the ball at midfield for their first drive of the second half. A pair of runs from senior Kaden Marrow pushed Western Albemarle into GW territory and senior Carson Tujague got the Warriors down to the Eagles’ 24-yard line when he hauled in a pass from senior quarterback Joey Burch.
However, GW maintained the shutout as senior Donavan Howard stepped in front of a pass for the Eagles’ fourth turnover of the contest.
Working with a long field, GW answered with a sustained drive that saw the Eagles work their way down to the Warriors 1-yard line on junior Omarion Hairston’s 32-yard reception from Byrnes. With GW holding a sizeable lead, Anderson turned to a little trickery, calling Poole’s number for a 1-yard touchdown reception with 26 seconds left in the third.
Western Albemarle refused to go away and showed its grit on its ensuing possession, capping a long drive with sophomore Aidan Carver-Woodson’s 10-yard reception and 2-point conversion with 20 seconds remaining that led to the final score.
The loss wraps up impressive careers for a strong group of seniors including Burch, linebacker/tight end Tujague, 1,000-yard rusher Kaden Morrow, fullback/linebacker Dakota Howell and linebacker Joshua Williams as well as offensive linemen Spencer Burnette, Spencer Franklin and Xander Smith.