Still rolling: Louisa County holds off Orange County

Photo: Kristi Ellis

Louisa County has a problem and it’s the best kind to have. The Lions are winning games convincingly and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. But even in a 35-14 win over arch rival Orange County to keep the Battle for the Gordonsville Tastee Freeze in Louisa’s possession for an 11th straight year, it was clear that the Lions felt like they could have done better, could have done more. But the take away was still pretty straight forward — maybe Louisa could have been sharper, but a win is a win is a win.


“They controlled the ball well in the first quarter but I thought our defense played really well almost all game — they got a late score that leaves with a salty taste in our mouths but winning is never easy,” said Lions coach Will Patrick. “No matter who you’re playing, they put their pants on too and when you’re Louisa County you’re getting everyone’s best shot and that’s just how it is. We came out in the second quarter and executed a lot better, did some good things and we still have some more to improve on.”


Orange came out and set a strong tone to the game with a lengthy opening drive that featured plenty of Jaylen Alexander and some nice work from Noah Carey and Walker Johnson. The Hornets came out and marched up to the Louisa 29-yard line but the Lions defense was able to the first of more than a handful of turnover on downs. Both teams traded punts but on Louisa’s second possession, a 35-yard pass from Landon Wilson to Buck Hunter set up the first of Jarett Hunter’s four touchdowns to draw first blood. Orange answered right back though and on the last play of the first quarter, Johnson connected on a perfectly placed 30-yard TD pass to Jireek Washington to tie things back up.


“I thought our defense played really well for a while there, defending a really good football team that’s really good at what they do,” said Orange coach Jesse Lohr. “We had a couple plays that didn’t go our way and I’d love to have those back. We got behind 21-7 and in the second half we got some guys open but just couldn’t get the ball to them in time.”


While defensively speaking the Lions were in tune pretty much all game, their offense was at its best in the second quarter. Louisa punched back with a 56-yard touchdown run from Kalup Shelton to take the lead just 57 seconds after Orange’s equalizer. Two possessions later after the defense came up with a turnover on downs, Jarett Hunter muscled his way through on a 14-yard run up the middle to make it 21-7. That score would hold through the half.


“The O-line really started to get that push up front (in the second quarter) and so for us it was really just having to beat one or two guys,” Hunter said. “Anytime you’ve got those opportunities because of the line you need to step up and I think we did some of that tonight.”


The second half started out with Orange successfully recovering an onside kick. The Hornets marched again like they did in the first possession of the game, but penalties stalled the drive before Louisa was able to force another turnover on downs with a sack from Qwenton Spellman. The next Orange drive was killed after just marching past midfield when Aaron Aponte picked up back-to-back sacks.


“We love getting after the quarterback,” Aponte said. “We love making it really hard to do anything in the backfield.”


On the other side of the ball, Louisa was able to pick up a 40-yard TD run from Jarett Hunter to begin the fourth quarter and make it 28-7. Then after a muffed punt deep in Hornets territory, Hunter cashed in a 5-yard run to the endzone to wrap up the scoring for the Lions with 8:59 to play.


While the Lions bottled up Alexander for much of the night, the senior tailback picked up the bulk of his rushing yards on a physical run early that quickly transitioned into a horse race. The 86-yard scoring sprint made it 35-14 with 5:52 to go. However, the Lions were able to answer with a long drive to end the game with the ball deep in Hornets territory.


Louisa (5-0) will travel to Monticello on Friday while Orange (1-4) will head to Charlottesville.