Lafayette ATH Mike Green weaves his way past LB defenders (Photo: Thomas Matzke/recruit757)
A fourth quarter surge carries Lafayette to victory
by Jim McGrath, recruit757
Mike Green’s 40-yard touchdown run on a broken punt attempt provided the game-clinching score for Lafayette, who won their first state championship since 2001, and capped an undefeated season, beating Lord Botetourt 27-13 on Saturday afternoon at Wanner Stadium in James City County.
Leading 20-13 with 1:27 remaining in regulation, the Rams faced a fourth-and-seven situation from the Cavalier 40, and opted to punt, with the hope of driving Lord Botetourt deep into its own territory and relying on a defense that had stumped its opponent’s offense throughout the second half.
What ended up happening resulted in what Lafayette coach Andy Linn would call “the greatest play in school history.” Linn should know. He has coached with the Lafayette football team since 1997 and passed over several potential head coaching positions in the early 2000’s, as he told Recruit757 several years ago. At that time, Linn said, “I could have gone somewhere else, but I’m a Lafayette guy.”
Lord Botetourt had partially blocked a punt earlier in the game, and the constant pressure from its special team rush had resulted in several short kicks, giving the Cavs beneficial field position.
The plan may have been to pooch a quick punt, but the snap was over delivered, and the ball sailed above Green’s head, creating instant chaos.
For everyone but Green.
“After the ball snapped over my head and I caught it, there was already a defender too close, so I said, ‘I need to run this,” said the UVA commit.
Without missing a beat, Green instinctively darted to the right sideline, and was immediately knocked back two yards. Breaking one tackle, and then another at the sideline, Green started toward his left, where he maneuvered through a trio of Cavalier tackles. He was almost stopped again, short of the first down, but broke free and continued to angle to his left, leaving a host of would-be tacklers to hopelessly give chase. Green escaped a final grab at the 10 and decelerated into the end zone.
“When I broke free and saw the open field, I knew we had the game,” added Green.
Lord Botetourt buried its own cause with 14 penalties (for 141 yards) in the game, including several personal fouls, which came at inopportune times, and kept one Ram drive alive, while another turned a first-and-10 into a 3rd-and-35 for the Cavalier offense.
However, it was the Cavs who controlled a good portion of the first half. After the blocked punt gave them the ball at the Lafayette 36, Botetourt overcame a holding penalty, as Dylan Wade broke free for a 26-yard gain, taking the ball to the Ram 6. Wade would finish the drive with a one-yard push into the end zone, giving the Daleville team a 7-0 edge.
Lafayette was deep in its own territory with a minute to go in the first half. Luke Hanson found Donald Gatling on a 42-yard-deep route, bringing the ball well past midfield, and set up a 40-yard Cannon Newell field goal on the final play of the half, pushing the deficit to 7-3.
The Rams would take the lead on their first possession of the second half when Hanson found Green on a 28-yard fade route into the right corner of the end zone. Newell’s extra point gave the Rams a 10-7 lead.
Lord Botetourt would quickly respond, thanks to Wade (15 carries, 108 yards) who broke free for a 44-yard run, and then followed with a one-yard burst through his line into the end zone. However, the Rams got through to block the extra point and the Cavs led 13-10.
The Rams defense, now stouter than ever, held Botetourt in check and the Cavs punted. A short drive, highlighted by a 20-yard Green reception, ended up fruitless as Newell’s 34-yard field goal attempt bounced off the left upright, ending the Rams chance to tie the contest.
Braxton Mooney’s eight-yard sack of Botetourt QB Sammy Peery set the defensive tone for the rest of the game. Soon after, the Rams caught a break as linebacker Bryce Cupp picked off a Cav pass and returned the ball to the visitor’s eight-yard line. Hanson followed with a one-yard sneak, and Lafayette regained the lead, 17-13. After an Aidan Byron pick, Newell added a 22-yd field
goal, and the Rams opened up a seven-point lead at 20-13.
“Everybody talked about them jamming it down our throat, but we’ve got a defense that shuts it down so that they’re meeting a rock when they run in the middle,” said Byron. While the Cavs executed the running game well at times, they totaled 241 yards for the game, with at least two-thirds coming in the first half.
Byron would later recover a Cavalier fumble setting up a stalled drive and Green’s run into Lafayette football history.
Lafayette 27, Lord Botetourt 13
Lord Botetourt (9-1) 0 7 6 0 — 13
Lafayette (9-0) 0 3 7 17 — 27
LB — Rice 1 run (Harvey kick)
Laf — FG Newell 40
Laf — Green 28 pass from Hanson (Newell kick)
LB — Wade 2 run (kick blocked)
Laf — Hanson 1 run (Newell kick)
Laf — FG Newell 22
Laf — Green 40 run (Newell kick)
First downs 12 9
Rushes-yards 48-248 35-137
Passing yards 21 104
Comp-Att-Int 2-10-3 8-22-0
Fumbles-lost 1-1 3-0
Penalties 14-141 8-45
Punts 5-28.4 5-25.2
Lord Botetourt: Wade 15-108, Rice 21-102, Bratton 6-24, Peery 6-14
Lafayette: Reel 20-65, Green 1-40, Hanson 6-23, Gatling 1-7, Warren 3-4, Cupp 3-0, Team 1-(minus 2).
Lord Botetourt: Peery 2-10-3–21
Lafayette: Hanson 8-22-0–104.
Lord Botetourt: Horton 2-21
Lafayette: Green 6-66, Gatling 1-84, Jones 1-(minus 5).