Kings Fork claims win as Lakeland, Nansemond River suffer defeat

Published 6:32 pm Tuesday, September 27, 2022

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By Matthew Hatfield

Contributing Writer

Bulldogs claim defensive battle with Western Branch

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Hosting an undefeated Western Branch team that entered averaging 37 points per game, the King’s Fork Bulldogs knew they would have their hands full. That was never more evident than when the Bulldogs saw a 15-play drive that lasted over seven minutes to begin the contest hit a screeching halt with a 98-yard pick-six for the visiting Bruins.

That put King’s Fork in a 7-0 deficit for the first time this season. Yet, coach Anthony Joffrion wasn’t worried.

“Cameron Butler has been in the program since seventh grade, so when he threw the interception, he didn’t waver. The team was unfazed. They were ready for the opportunity to get back on the field,” Joffrion noted.

From there, the Bulldogs put forth a dominant display, holding Western Branch to only 57 total yards of offense, four first downs, one completion and no more scores. Butler would later redeem himself with a 24-yard touchdown pass to freshman Keontae Bumpers on a fourth-and-13 play, and sophomore running back JaVon Ford gave them a 14-7 lead on a 12-yard touchdown in the second quarter that they would not relinquish.

More than anything else, the defense came through with critical plays, none perhaps as influential as a tackle by senior defensive back Antione Gray on a fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line in the second half.  Junior Malachi Nixon made the game-sealing interception in the waning moments of the fourth quarter.

“The defense just wants to play every single Friday night and compete.  They play together very well.  Our defense last year was really, really good.  But in a way, I think is better because everybody understands their assignment and they execute it to the best of their ability,” remarked Joffrion, citing the line of scrimmage as the difference in the ballgame.

“(Western Branch) is a really big football team. Our kids did a good job using their hands, attacking and making sure they were prepared for all their plays. We spent a lot of time in practice watching film, understanding what their offense was trying to do and did a great job of executing our game-plan.”

Ford ran the ball 27 times for 96 yards on a night when the Bulldogs converted seven of 12 third downs.

“JaVon did a great job of getting those yards when we really needed it,” Joffrion added.  “Cam did a great job of throwing the ball and converting third downs to Kaletri Boyd.   I wish we would’ve punched it in for scores a couple more times, but overall I was pleased with how our offense played.”

Now 4-0, King’s Fork has no plans of slowing down as it approaches a matchup at winless Grassfield to close out September.

“The culture has been established and our group is special.   On that goal-line sequence, we actually ended up getting an offsides penalty.  A lot of teams would’ve panicked.  The players were excited for the opportunity, flying around and we were able to come up with that huge stop in the fourth quarter,” Joffrion explained.

“It goes back to the way we practice, and we’re going to hold each other accountable.  I think it’s paying off on Friday nights because practice is so intense that when we get to the games, most of the time they don’t have to take it up to a crazy level because they’ve been prepared.”

Nansemond River Falls to 3-2

Up 17-14 at half-time, Nansemond River was unable to close the deal, yielding 13 points after half-time in a 27-17 loss to the Indian River Braves that dropped their overall record to 3-2.

“On a couple plays, we were misaligned when the ball went in the air and didn’t do what we were taught to do. We were still able to move the ball down the field in the second half, just with no points to show for it,” declared Warriors coach Alonzo Ricks Jr. “We just have to finish our drives and stop those guys better.”

The Warriors built the lead behind a 38-yard field goal from Dallas Slaughter and increased the advantage on the play of QB Alkendric Overton, who had both a touchdown pass and run on a night when he accounted for 190 yards (154 passing).

But in the second half, the Warriors had a field goal blocked that would’ve pulled them within seven and failed to convert on a fourth down in Indian River territory as well.

“We have to capitalize on our chances of scoring in all three phases – offense, defense and special teams.  It’s about finding a groove,” said Ricks, whose squad enters the bye week before traveling to Lakeland on Oct. 7. “The guys have been responding well. It stinks for now because we don’t play for a couple weeks, but they’re practicing hard, preparing and now it comes down to executing to show what we’re doing Monday through Thursday to get ready for Friday nights.”

Lakeland overwhelmed by Great Bridge

Despite rushing for 234 yards, the Lakeland Cavaliers suffered their fourth straight defeat as Great Bridge scored 38 unanswered points in a 48-8 victory.

Great Bridge scored the game’s first 12 points, including a punt return for a touchdown.  While Lakeland would convert a two-point conversion following their lone touchdown of the night to pull within four, the Wildcats saw three of their four completions on the night go for scores.

Lakeland tries to halt its losing skid on Sept. 29 at Deep Creek (3-1).