Wk 9 RNK 2021 Giles vs James River Game

Wk 9 RNK 2021 Giles vs James River Game 574 382 SWVA High School Sports

Party Crashers, Giles County steals the win from James River 21-14

James River High School, Buchanan, Va –What’s more exciting than a close football game that comes down to the last seconds? How about one on homecoming night. The James River Knights were coming off of a tough loss to Glenver earlier in the week, but they didn’t look like a team that had just been beat. On the first play of their homecoming game, QB 10 Zeal Hammon found WR 4 Ben Bailey, who made some moves and advanced the Knights fifty-yards upfield. Two plays later, RB 7 Conner Church punched into the end zone to put River up seven two minutes into the game. For every Knights score, the Giles Spartans hit back and then some. Spartan fans had the train whistle going up in the stands. It was RB 12 Gage Fleeman who got Giles on the tracks early, tying the game at seven apiece. At the end of the game the Senior would prove the difference with a clutch TD run, with a minute left in the fourth quarter that would seal the deal for the Spartans. After another tough loss, James River Head Coach Tim Jennings explained how he looked at a two-game week, “We took it as an opportunity. I know I never got the chance to play two games in one week, never got to play two football seasons in one calendar year, either. But tonight, when Giles needed the plays, they made them, and we couldn’t make some of the plays we made in the past.” The Spartans have Auburn up next and a fired-up Knights squad will battle Carroll County.

First Quarter –  James River’s first drive made a statement to say the least. Three plays, seven points and a quick lead. The Knights carried that momentum to the defensive end, putting an abrupt stop to Giles first offensive push with a big third down tackle for a loss by LB 71 Logan Campbell leading to a turnover on downs. River got back to work, attacking the Spartans on the ground with RB 7 Church dashes. Church picked up two first downs but the drive would take a hit. The sack came in the form of a ten-yard loss at the hands of Spartan 34 Jacob Edwards.

Giles RB 12 Gage Fleeman gets an escort

The Knights couldn’t recover from the loss and turned it over on downs after of a handful of incomplete QB 10 Zeal Hammon tosses. Giles again, couldn’t find a way around the River defense and punted on their second possession. The Spartans wouldn’t be without the ball for long though as DB 9 Brogan Pennington snagged Hammon’s pass for the interception at the Knight’s fifteen.

RB 4 Khalik Saunders picks up a first down for the Spartans

Two rushes by RB 4 Khalik Saunders and RB 13 Fleeman and Giles had set themselves up for a golden scoring opportunity in the second quarter.

Second Quarter –  Sure enough, five seconds into the quarter Giles County was on the board with a RB 12 Fleeman TD followed by K 7 Connor Price PAT, tying the ball game at seven apiece. That would be the only score of the quarter, as the two teams were fairly equally matched. Giles squibbed the kickoff and almost recovered possession, but JR’s 4 Ben Bailey locked the ball down. The Knights got on the move, headlined by big forty-five-yard pass from QB 10 Hammon to WR 4 Bailey, but it wouldn’t last.

James River Head Coach Tim Jennings surveys the situation

A costly holding penalty was the nail in the coffin for this James River drive. The Knights couldn’t recover and turned it over on downs on the Giles thirty-four. The Spartans kicked off the possession with their largest gain of the night so far. WR 80 Noah Sheetz took the hand off on a thirty-eight-yard sprint. But that’s about all the offense the Spartans could muster.  A combination of penalties and a loss of ten yards when Fleeman was brought down by JR’s 44 George Toliver behind the line put that series to rest.

Giles RB/WR 80 Nathan Sheetz break free for a TD

The next two drives, one for the Knights and one for the Spartans, resulted in punts, But Giles interfered on a fair catcb by Church and that appeared to set up a promising drive. Unfortunately for the Knights, Giles had other intentions and James River ran out of time in the first half.

James River RB 7 Connor Church gets outside

Third Quarter –  Just like James River in the first half, Giles began the second half with a strong scoring drive. It began with a twenty-yard return by WR/DB 5 Christian Ratcliffe  and ended with another huge RB 80 Sheetz thirty-five-yard TD run. Unlike Giles, it didn’t take the Knights a quarter to tie up the game. It wouldn’t even take one play. After being crowned homecoming king at halftime, WR/DB 4 Ben Bailey used his newly acquired fame and came up with the biggest play of the game. “Number four” caught the kickoff at the twenty-two and booked it up the home sideline for a stunning seventy-eight-yard TD return.

James River Homecoming King and Queen

James River WR/DB 4 Ben Bailey scores on a kickoff return

After K 18 James Voight’s PAT, the game was notched again 14 apiece. Giles took over on offense but didn’t have much luck against the newly, excited Knight defense. After substantial pressure from the defense, RB 12 Fleeman tried to throw the ball away but instead drew an intentional grounding flag forcing a punt. River got back to work but the Spartans did a lot of the work for them in the form of two consecutive penalties pushing the home team up field thirty yards. The free yardage wouldn’t matter when Spartan DL 73 Guhner Dunford split the Knight’s line to bring down RB 24 Colin Cook. The ball popped loose and the Spartan’s Pennington was there to again secure the ball for Giles. The visitors made a solid push, but penalties and a tough Knight defense forced another Giles punt to end the third.

Knight QB 10 Zeal Hammon lines up a pass for James River

Fourth Quarter –  James River kicked off the final quarter with a nice drive. The Knights advanced the ball all the way to the Spartan’s fifteen, but Giles would let them go no further. After a big hit on RB 7 Church from LB 80 Sheetz and a QB 10 Hammon pass tipped by dB 2 Ethan Orey, the Knights settled for a field goal. It missed, allowing Giles to escape a dangerous situation unscathed. Following the missed field goal, the Spartans put together their longest drive of the game, combining thirteen plays for eighty yards and a TD. It was all RB 12 Fleeman and RB 4 Saunders with OL 56 Chase Journell helping open holes in the Knight’s D. Giles had a big gain on a fake Fleeman run where Saunders held on to it and snuck up the middle, vintage single wing football.

WR 9 Brogan Pennington picks up some extra yards

They ran the play for quality yards a handful of times and it consistently worked. Giles took their time, leaving River a paltry minute and change to work with after Fleeman capped the drive off with a one-yard TD run. The Knights and Hammon did what they could but this time, the ball didn’t find its targets and the Knights turned the ball over on downs. RB 12 Fleeman took a knee on successive plays and the deal was sealed, Giles 21, James River 14, ending an action-packed night of homecoming football.  – Graham Whitaker

Rushing: Giles – Gage Fleeman 29-107yds 2 TD’s, Nathan Sheetz 2-83 yds 1 TD, Khalik Saunders 8-48 yds
James River – Conner Church 14-47 yds 1 TD, Ben Bailey 2-1 yd, Colin Cook 1-11 yds, Zeal Hammon 3-(-11) yds
James River – Zeal Hammon 12/29-180 yds
Giles – None
James River – Ben Bailey 4-104 yds, Tanner Dillow 1-27 yds, Levi Rock 3-24 yds, Conner Church 2-12 yds, Brian Moran 1-12 yds, George Toliver 1-(-1)
Giles – 4/40 avg. James River – 1/40 avg.

1st Qtr.
James River: Church 3-yd run: Voight PAT 10:47
2nd Qtr.
Giles: Fleeman 2-yd run: Price PAT 11:55
3rd Qtr.
Giles: Sheetz 35-yd run: Price PAT 9:41
James River: Bailey 78-yd return: Voight PAT 9:29
4th Qtr.
Giles: Fleeman 1-yd run: Price PAT 1:12

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