For the fourth time in five years, the Appomattox Raiders football team has reserved a spot in the VHSL Class 2 Championship game, this time with a 28-13 home win over the Graham G-Men.
The Raiders (12-2) move on to play Stuarts Draft on Saturday, Dec. 14, in Salem for the right to claim Virginia Class 2 supremacy. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Stuarts Draft (13-1) crushed Thomas Jefferson today in the other Class 2 State Semifinal by a score of 49-7.
Graham, trailing 22-13, missed several opportunities to close the gap on Appomattox late in the fourth quarter.
On 4th-and-2 at the Appomattox 20-yard-line, running back Treveese Booker was stuffed by the Raiders defense at the 19 for a turnover on downs.
After Graham forced Appomattox to punt on the next possession, Xayvion Turner eluded several Raider tacklers from the left sideline to the right on the ensuing punt return for a touchdown. However, the play was called back by an illegal blindside block penalty, placing the ball instead at their own 25-yard-line. The penalty call wiped out the dynamic return and the best chance for the G-Men to mount a comeback.
The Raiders defense once again stood their ground. On the same series, on 4th-and-5, Appomattox prevented Graham quarterback Devin Lester from gaining a first down on a run to the left. The first and second levels of the Raider defense closed all cutback lanes and forced Lester to run wide.
Appomattox quarterback Tre Lawing put the game virtually out of reach on an 8-yard touchdown run with 1:19 left in the game. The score capped off a 3-minute, 56-second ball-control drive defined by tough interior running from Lawing, Cristian Ferguson and Keyshawn Baker.
Jaheim Scruggs then picked off his second pass of the game with 1:09 remaining to put the proverbial final nail in the coffin and seal the trip to Salem for Appomattox.
Scruggs was a playmaker in the semifinal win over Graham. Along with his two interceptions, he also scored on a 31-yard touchdown reception near the end of the first half to give the Raiders a 20-13 lead. Scruggs then took the extra point snap from center and scored the subsequent 2-point conversion.
Tevin Hurt had a hand, literally, in keeping the Raiders ahead in the first half when he blocked a Graham extra point attempt after a score on a deep touchdown pass from Lester to Turner.
Tez Booker of Appomattox opened scoring on the day with a 32-yard reception from Lawing just under five minutes into the game.
After the G-Men tied the game at 7-7 on a Lester touchdown pass to Marcus Ray, Lawing rolled to the right and found Tyler Gilliam for a 29-yard score to go up 14-7.
Perhaps the best weapon for Graham was massive 6-foot 7-inch, 305-pound sophomore defensive lineman Brody Meadows, who was a one-man wrecking crew at the line of scrimmage, busting up Raider running attempts all game long.
Nevertheless, Ferguson was able to rack up 124 yards rushing on 26 carries. Baker added 31 yards on 6 attempts.
Booker topped Raider receivers with 67 total yards, followed by Gilliam's 44.
Lawing completed 6 of 7 attempts through the air for 103 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions.
Appomattox coughed the ball up three times during the hard-hitting game, but lost only one.
For more Raiders coverage and post-game interviews, see the Dec. 11 edition of the Times Virginian.
See images from the semifinal game at the following link: http://www.timesvirginian.com/sports/article_ac884f4e-1950-11ea-a526-a71a1a5abc29.html