Wk 1 NRV 2023 George wythe-W @ Radford

Wk 1 NRV 2023 George wythe-W @ Radford 752 1294 SWVA High School Sports

Radford makes it three in a row in home openers over George Wythe

Radford High School Radford, VA – If last season’s opener is the baseline, the Bobcats and the Maroons are both on track for successful seasons. Last year, GW reached the state championship before falling to Riverlands and Radford made a deep postseason run cut short after a close loss to Appomattox County. 

Each team was adapting to life without last year’s seniors, but the Bobcats found their stride first, racking up 28 points and forcing 3 GW turnovers in the first half. “I thought we came out well offensively and defensively,” Radford QB 7 Landen Clark said after the game. The senior contributed toward all four first half TD’s, finishing the night with 216 total yards and several clutch passes to WR 18 Max Kanipe.

Radford QB 7 Landen Clark heads for the end zone

The Maroons struggled most of the evening before getting on the board midway through the fourth quarter with a 55 yard QB 15 Tandom Smith pass to RB 1 Laden Houston. “We’re young,” Smith said after the loss, “we’ve got to step up to get back to where we were last year.”

Bobcats Head Coach Crist was satisfied with his squad’s opener,”Our kids played really hard, defensively we were able to get them [GW] behind the chains and play our style.” Coach Crist continued, “Coach Harner is a tremendous defensive coach and they’re gonna be a good ball club.” 

Radford’s special teams opted into an onside kick strategy from the get-go and the Bobcat defense held the line. First, DL 52 Charlie Davis, DL 63 Ben Spaulding and DL 70 Daniel Nealey  overpowered GW’s line and halted the Maroon’s drive with a sack on Smith. The Radford D-line stepped up again the next drive, forcing a crucial intentional grounding penalty to set up the Bobcat’s first TD after strong RB 32 William Depart-Lewis runs. 

George Wythe’s Laden Houston cuts through some Bobcat traffic

Radford’s second score was the result of a Clark-Kanipe target practice session. The seniors connected three times for 46 yards, culminating in a 37 yard TD after #18 broke through a GW tackle. The Bobcat’s preferred trying for the two point conversion over PAT and went 2/3 throughout the contest. On the first conversion, Clark sniped a receiver in the back right corner of the end zone. The successful two point try set up a sneaky looking second conversion. Radford overloaded the left side with receivers, splitting the Maroons defense allowing Clark to stroll into the end zone untouched after the snap putting the Bobcats up 16-0 early in the second quarter. 

“Our special teams were an integral part of putting our offense into a position to be successful,” Bobcat’s Coach Crist said after the game. Radford’s special teams put Clark and the offense on track to score by exclusively attempting onside kicks the entire first half. After Kanipe’s TD, Bobcat’s #52 Charlie Davis recovered a bouncy squib kick to give his squad the ball at midfield. Five plays later, Clark broke into the end zone again for the third TD of the half. GW wasn’t going to fooled again, and handedly stopped Radford’s two point try after 

“They score, we get a stop, but then they score again and we flattened out a bit,” GW Head Coach Harner said on the first half, “mistakes add up.” The Maroon’s turnovers definitely played a part in the lopsided first half. After the onside kick turnover, GW lost control of a solid drive when the Bobcat line broke through forcing a fumble. On defense, GW’s DE 3 Brayden Rainey stepped up on third down, chasing down Clark for a drive ending sack to give his squad another chance to get on the board. 

But GW couldn’t keep their foot on the gas. Three plays later, Kanipe picked off Smith’s pass to set Radford up 23 yards away from another six points. The Bobcat’s quickly capitalized on their opportunity with a 22 yard Clark rush up the home sideline. 

Maroon QB 15 Tandom Smith gets ready to let one fly

In the third quarter both groups were dialed in defensively, allowing no points scored for either squad. GW had to come out hot in the fourth if they wanted to put a dent in the Bobcat’s 28 point lead, but after another costly turnover, Clark found RB 8 Keymoni Kimbrough for an 18 yard scoring pass. PK 31 Luciano Pugliese punched in the PAT to push the score to 35-0. The Maroons finally got their break the next drive, Smith drilled Houston with a pass up the middle and Houston did the rest, racking up 55 yards and the TD. K 69 Thomas Mitchell kicked in the extra point for GW and the posecion went back to the Bobcat’s.

Radford receiver Sincere Taylor breaks free after a catch

It would be more succinct to say the ball went to Radford’s Kimbrough. The freshman wracked up 85 rushing yards over seven carries, the last of which being an impressive 40 yard TD rush as the clock winded down. “I think we finished on a high note,” Clark said after the 42-7 victory. 

Next week Radford hosts Giles and GW will host the 22-23 VHSL class 2 state champions Graham High School for their second game of the season. Talk about a tough opening schedule.

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