DALEVILLE, Va. — Class AA No. 1 Bluefield was held scoreless after halftime Friday night at Lord Botetourt (Va.) High School. As a result, the Beavers came up short, 20-14, in their quest for a marquee win against a strong Class 3 program 20 minutes outside of Roanoke.
“I saw some character. We didn’t quit. With a break here and there, we could’ve pulled it off,” Bluefield coach Fred Simon said.
While Bluefield (2-1) managed all of its offense in the first half, the Beavers were held without a first down on each of their first three drives. The Cavaliers (3-0) jumped ahead on their third series via James-Ryan Salvi’s 35-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Arnholt.
Jacorian Green’s red zone intercpetion of an Evan Eller pass had prevented Lord Botetourt from taking the lead on its previous series, but the Cavaliers gained the 7-0 edge after Terran Baker knocked home the point-after kick just before the second quarter started.
A 43-yard pass from Carson Deeb to Jahiem House put the Beavers in the red zone on their fourth series. But Green fumbled on the next play and the Cavaliers’ Cameron Moss recovered at the 11:10 mark of the second.
“I can’t fault our effort,” Simon said. “We made a few mistakes mentally, but the effort was there.”
The Beavers’ defense continued to play at a high level and after forcing consecutive punts, the BHS offense got in gear. Deeb found J.J. Davis for a 56-yard gain with most of the damage coming after the catch, and Deeb finished the drive with a 10-yard TD pass to House.
Kaulin Parris knocked home the PAT to tie it at 7 with 1:45 left in the half.
Bluefield got the ball back at the Cavaliers’ 42 after forcing a three-and-out late in the half, and Deeb tossed a 40-yard TD pass to House to give the Beavers the 14-7 lead at the break.
“We always talk about playing four quarters. We don’t worry about getting behind,” Cavaliers’ coach Jamie Harless said. “There’s 48 minutes in a game and you have to keep playing.”
Lord Botetourt began the second half with a nine play, 83-yard drive that was finished off by Dylan Wade’s 2-yard touchdown run. That enabled the Cavaliers to get even at 14 with 7:33 to play in the third.
The Cavaliers forced a three-and-out on Bluefield’s first possession of the second half to take over at the Beavers’ 46.
Two plays later, Arnholt made an acrobatic reception to bring in a 37-yard TD pass from Salvi. The point-after was no good, leaving Bluefield with the six-point deficit.
“This is definitely a team win. I’m real proud of them. This is the 90th game I’ve coached out here and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a display of guts on this field like that,” Harless said. “If this isn’t the best one, it’s in the top three.”
Juwaun Green’s interception of a Salvi pass late in the third gave the Beavers the ball in Lord Botetourt territory, but the enusing possession ended on downs at the Cavaliers’ 18.
Still, the Beavers got the ball back and had a chance to win after Deeb found Green for 20 yards to cross midfield. Bluefield managed one more first down, but Deeb’s pass on fourth-and-15 fell incomplete, allowing the Cavaliers to take over at their 40.
“It was part of our game plan (to pass often), because we have a good throwing quarterback and some pretty good receivers,” Simon said. “We knew running at them all the time wasn’t going to be easy, plus now you lose your center and put a sophomore in there and that definitely hurt the running game some.”
Salvi’s 53-yard pass to Gunner Givens sealed the verdict.
Although Bluefield got a standout defensive performance from Division I recruit Sean Martin up front, the Beavers played without another high-level college prospect. Junior Isaiah Johnson, who has fielded multiple Division I offers, suffered a broken ankle last week and is likely to miss the remainder of the regular season.
The Cavaliers played the second half without Eller after he suffered an injury on House’s second touchdown reception.
“They’re first class kids, first class coaches and a football town,” Harless said of Bluefield. “It’s a great opportunity to compete against them. These are the games we want to play here in Daleville.”