Lake Taylor RB Malik Newton scores (Photo: Lance Hinton/recruit757)
Lake Taylor won a classic playoff battle over Eastern View
by Andy Hilton, recruit757
There’s an old saying that you’re paying for a seat but you’re only going to use the edge of it. That’s excitement.
That’s what Lake Taylor vs. Eastern View was on Saturday.
The Cyclones were in control early, leaping out to a 10-0 lead over a Lake Taylor team that was a bit bewildered by Eastern View’s quick start. The Titans had been challenged before, and that served them well on Saturday.
Lake Taylor managed to forge a lead, scoring first on a 14-yard connection between Jeff Foster and Von Harvey. Then Harvey exploded for a 96-yard touchdown that made the home crowd erupt. It suddenly felt like Titan football in Norfolk.
Eastern View closed out the first half with a 8-yard touchdown pass from Matt Lowry to Blake Leake. That put the Cyclones ahead 17-14 at the break.
The second half would deliver even more excitement. The teams traded scores and the last team to score pulled out the win.
Eastern View had the upper hand when Lowry scored on a two-yard run with 6:21 left in the game. He converted the two-pointer to give the Cyclones a 31-28 lead. Lake Taylor fans knew that was plenty of time for Jeff Foster to get to work.A 54-yard completion from Foster to Malik Newton set up the Titans’ final score. Newton punched it in from 1-yard out to give the Titans the lead with 1:03 left. Lowry and his hyper-productive offense reached the red zone on their final drive, but couldn’t generate an answer in the final minute and the Titans prevailed by a score of 35-31.
Jeff Foster led the Titans in the win with 12 for 21 passing for 297 yards and two touchdowns. Foster also had a rushing TD. Javon Harvey had five catches for 211 receiving yards and two touchdowns. His defensive play was a difference maker.
“We’ve been battle tested all year. We knew from the jump it was going to be a battle. We had to keep doing our job: executing… keep believing in what the coaches were saying,” said Harvey. “I’m excited. It feels good. I know my role as a leader. When my team is down, I gotta pick ’em back up.”
With the win, Lake Taylor returns to Lynchburg and Liberty University for the state title game. It will be their first trip there since a double overtime state championship loss to Salem – Salem in 2015. The Titans won the State Championship under current head coach Hank Sawyer in 2012 and 2014. Lake Taylor beat Salem at Liberty University for the 2014 title and they’d certainly love to get that feeling back.
“It would be a shame to go the whole season like we have and not win the state championship. That’s the bottom line,” said Sawyer. “It validates our program and the job that my coaches do.”
Lake Taylor will face Woodgrove (10-2) for the 2018 Class 4 State Championship. The Wolverines pulled out a 26-23 win in overtime against previously undefeated Blacksburg on Saturday. Woodgrove High School opened in 2010 and their deepest playoff run to date had been a state semifinal appearance in 2015. This will be their first state championship game in football. Lake Taylor is appearing in their fourth title game and the Titans are 2-1 in those games.
FINAL: Lake Taylor 35, Eastern View 31
– Andy Hilton
You can see more highlights and interviews on the recruit757 YouTube channel and in the videos below: