IWA falls in state title game

Published 9:07 am Saturday, November 21, 2009

After overcoming key injuries and a tough schedule, the Isle of Wight Academy Chargers were unable to overcome the final few challenges, losing in the Virginia Independent Schools Division III state championship game Saturday evening.

By falling to the Blessed Sacrament-Huguenot Knights 22-16 at home, the Chargers came up short in their bid to win their fourth state championship in five years and cap off a perfect season.

“I am not about to make excuses for tonight’s loss,” Charger head coach Dale Chapman said. “We made mistakes tonight, and they (the Knights) capitalized on them. We just couldn’t make the plays at the end.”

Although outperformed on the stat sheet, IWA did hold a 9-0 advantage at halftime thanks to a few key plays and strong, timely play from its defense.

But, Chapman felt his team simply tired in the second half, allowing the Knights to storm back.

“I don’t want to take anything away from Blessed Sacrament. They are a great team. But, having to play two state-championship-quality games in one week was tough on this team,” Chapman said, referring to a semifinal victory over Fuqua School on Monday that had originally been scheduled for the preceding Friday but was postponed due to rain. “Thankfully, they (state officials) allowed us to play (the championship game) on Saturday, giving us one more day.”

In front of a standing-room-only crowd, the Chargers and Knights played to a near draw through the first half until midway through the second quarter.

After the Knights failed to convert a 25-yard field goal attempt, Isle of Wight took over at its own 20-yard line. Two plays later, senior quarterback Daniel Brown raced around left end for a 63-yard touchdown with 6:30 left in the half.

The extra-point attempt was blocked, leaving the score 6-0.

The Charger defense stepped up on the next possession, forcing the Knights to punt. On fourth down, the snap sailed over the Knights’ punter, giving IWA the ball at the Knight 15.

After failing to move the ball any closer, freshman kicker Justin Vick converted a 30-yard field goal with just over three minutes remaining. The kick gave the Chargers a 9-0 lead at the half.

Isle of Wight would hold that lead through the third quarter but would see it quickly evaporate.

On their first series of the fourth quarter, the Knights drove 46 yards in five plays. They capped off the series when Austin Wingfield connected with Chris Howard on a 10-yard touchdown pass with 10:37 left in the game.

The Chargers were unable to do much on their next possession and were forced to punt.

The Knights took the ensuing possession 73 yards for a go-ahead touchdown, ending it with a 1-yard run by John Moore. The Knights converted on the two-point attempt, giving them a 15-9 lead with 6:23 remaining.

On the very next play and now trailing for the first time, the Chargers would fumble the ball for the first time in the game.

Recovering a fumbled option at the IWA 36, the Knights marched in for another and clinching touchdown to go up 22-9 with 4:28 to go.

Isle of Wight would make it interesting, though, scoring on its next possession.

Freshman tailback Zeb Warnick finished off the long, 3-minute drive with a 4-yard touchdown run. The extra point by Vick was good, closing the score to 22-16 with 1:29 to go.

The Chargers were unable to recover the onside kick, giving the ball back to Blessed Sacrament, which simply ran out the clock.

Overall the Knights generated 363 yards of total offense, compared to just 168 by the Chargers.

After the game, Chapman was already looking ahead to next year.

“I told those who are coming back to play next year to keep this loss with them,” Chapman said. “We are going to get back to our lifting program and condition program Monday. We are going to break down film and see how we can be even better next year.”