Gallery by Tina Laney
LINDSIDE – Coming off a 27-0 win just over a month ago, there were some concerns that top-rated James Monroe might come out over confident Friday night in its quarterfinal battle with Greenbrier West.
That was clearly not the case.
Racing out to a 28-6 halftime lead, the Mavericks never appeared threatened in a 48-13 pounding of the Cavaliers at H.E. Comer Jr. Sports Complex.
“I told the boys that I had been around here for a long time and had a lot of big wins. I am about as proud of them tonight as I have ever been of a team,” James Monroe head coach John Mustain said. “They played focused the entire night and they played hard the entire night. Win, lose or draw that is all you can ever ask. I am very proud of them.”
James Monroe won the toss, elected to take the ball and never looked back.
The Mavericks proceeded to set the tone for the night marching 67 yards in 10 plays, capped by a three-yard touchdown run from junior tailback Cooper Ridgeway.
Ridgeway did the heavy lifting in the opening drive carrying the ball seven times for 59 yards.
“I couldn’t tell you how many times coach told us it is really hard to beat a team twice and that just really motivated us more to get better throughout the week,” Ridgeway said. “My teammates know that I have there back and all week in practice we have been up, up, up, just excited to death to get on this field and play this game. We can’t be any happier to be going on to the next round.”
Although he has been a been a key component for James Monroe on offense all season, Ridgeway took his game to another level in the opening half.
Carrying the ball 17 times in the first two quarters, Ridgeway amassed 113 yards to ignite the Mavs machine.
“To me, Cooper was running a little possessed tonight,” Mustain said. “He always runs hard, but I thought he had something a little extra tonight. He had a fantastic game.”
The key play in the first drive came from quarterback Layton Dowdy.
Facing fourth-and-4 from the Greenbrier West 23 yard line, Dowdy appeared to be sacked by a pair of Cavaliers rushers. The sophomore standout eluded the rush, running for nine yards to keep the drive alive.
“He looked like (Patrick) Mahomes out there because they had him dead to rights,” Mustain said. “How he got out of that, I still don’t know. He got us a key first down. He has played great all year. I can’t say enough about him.”
A 34-yard kick return by Isaac Agee gave the Cavaliers life, but the Mavs defense squelched that momentum by quickly forcing a three-and-out.
James Monroe later pushed the lead to 14-0 when Dowdy scrambled right, buying time before he hit Braydie Carr going back to the middle of the field. Carr reeled in the pass and rumbled 35 yards for the score.
Before the halftime horn sounded, Dowdy had completed four of his five attempts for 115 yards. Three of the grabs ended in the end zone. Along with Carr, Dowdy fired strikes to Eli Allen and Nicklas Pitzer.
“(Assistant coach) Kelly Mann working with (Dowdy) has helped him come up to that next level,” Mustain said. “(Kelly) has really helped us develop a passing game and move it to the next level.”
West’s initial score came in the first quarter on a 76-yard pass and run from Tucker Lilly to Ethan Holliday. The second score came on the opening drive of the third quarter when Holliday capped a 55-yard drive with a six-yard burst.
“My message at halftime was the game was not over. I think you have to credit them. Their kids came out in the second half with a comeback in mind,” Mustain said. “They did a good job and was pushing us off the line of scrimmage. Thankfully we regrouped and our offense continued to go.”
The thoughts of a comeback were put to rest when James Monroe answered with an 80-yard drive ending in Ridgeway’s second score of the night. Ridgeway carried the ball six times on the drive and Dowdy had two 16-yard completions. One went to Chaz Boggs and the other to Allen.
While the Mavs offense was ringing up touchdowns, the defense was frustrating the Cavaliers.
“We really didn’t have a whole lot different tonight, but bottom line was the (defense) just came out focused on their keys and doing what they are supposed to do. They have been doing that all year,” Mustain said. “That is about as good a defense as I have coached and we have had some good ones. Hopefully we have two more weeks in us.”
A 52-yard scoring run from Braydie Carr and Ridgeway’s third touchdown of the night rounded out the scoring.
“I love my line. Every single one of them. They give me crap about not shouting everyone of them out,” Ridgeway said, smiling. “I am shouting them out. Thank you all so much. This game is on (them), not me. I just believe in every single one of my teammates and we have each other’s back. We know what each of us can do.”
James Monroe raises its record to 12-0 and awaits the winner of No. 5 Wheeling Central and No. 4 Wahama in next week’s semifinal round. Greenbrier West ends it season at 10-2.
GW : 6 0 7 0 – 13
JM: 14 14 6 14- 48
JM: Cooper Ridgeway 3 run (Ridgeway rush)
JM: Braydie Carr 35 pass from Layton Dowdy (kick no good)
GW: Ethan Holliday 76 pass from Tucker Lilly (kick no good)
JM: Eli Allen 15 pass from Dowdy (Owen Jackson kick)
JM: Nicklas Pitzer 38 pass from Dowdy (Jackson kick)
GW: Holliday 6 run (Hayden Ridgeway kick)
JM: Ridgeway 6 run ( kick no good)
JM: Carr 52 run (Jackson kick)
JM: Ridgeway 13 run (Jackson kick)
Rushing: (GW) Ty Nickell 6-33, Cole Vandall 6-24, Ethan Holliday 9-40, Tucker Lilly 1-11; (JM) Cooper Ridgeway 25-155-3, Layton Dowdy 3-1, Braydie Carr 10-102-1, Chaz Boggs 2-10, Brock Parker 3-5, Baylee Ridgeway 2-8, Ryan Mann 1-(-3).
Passing: (GW) Lilly 4-9-0-84-1; (JM) Dowdy 7-8-0-184-3
Receiving: (GW) Vandall 1-5, Holliday 1-76-1, Parker 2-3; (JM) Eli Allen 4-68-1, Boggs 1-16, Carr 2-62-1, Nicklas Pitzer 1-38-1.