Fresh off the field after a big playoff victory, Essex Coach John Fulks was happy and hopeful. He was happy that his boys had just knocked out fourth-seeded Central Woodstock in a 48-28 slug fest.
“I just hope we can continue to play at this level,” he said.
Playing at this level includes a lot of things. The potent offense must strike quickly and repeatedly. The defense must hold up against a constant threat. And last but not least, all his players need to be healthy, suited up and ready to play their best.
The Trojans certainly met that criteria Friday night, defeating a worthy opponent with big offensive plays and a persistent, if imperfect defense.
Dominek Broaddus threw for four touchdowns and ran for another to lead the Trojans. De’Andre Baylor caught a touchdown and grabbed an interception and Raheim Rolling ran for a pair as the Trojans showed off their high-powered offense. The defense came up big several times, grabbing two key interceptions and recovering a fumble that all but killed the Falcons’ late-game efforts.
Next up for the Trojans is John Battle, the fourth seed from the western bracket. Battle, from Bristol, scored a 15-14 victory to defeat the number-one seed from the western side, Fort Chiswell. Battle’s victory turned on a busted play, as an attempted point-after kick went haywire and the kicker passed to a teammate in the end zone for what was the game-winning play. Battle will travel more than six hours for the game Saturday in Tappahannock. Essex retains home-field advantage by virtue of its top seeding in the Division 2 eastern bracket and plays the lowest seed of the three remaining teams – Battle.
De’Andre Baylor got Essex started when he took a Dominek Broaddus pass and rolled 55 yards to give the Trojans their first touchdown. Jason Compton’s kick made it 7-0.
Broaddus ran from 11 yards out for the next touchdown, and Compton’s kick made it 14-0 with little more than four minutes left in the first quarter.
Central Woodstock pounded the ball down to the Essex 15-yard line where Travis Cooper grabbed a pass and stepped across the goal line. Jordan Umstead’s kick made it 14-7 with only seconds left in the first quarter.
Broaddus connected with Keith Bundy on a 14-yard pass play for the next Trojan touchdown, and Compton’s kick made it 21-7 with 9:41 left in the second quarter.
Essex managed to get to the two-yard line on the next series and the Falcons’ defense stopped the Trojans with five and a half minutes left in the second quarter.
Momentum seemed to be with the Falcons as they drove down on the Trojans and Jordan Umstead burst across from the three-yard line. The kick made it 21-14 with only 1:41 left in the half.
The ensuing Falcon kick fell short and Essex found itself in striking distance landing on the Central Woodstock 43-yard line. Broaddus made a pair of quick bursts gaining valuable yards on each carry before getting out of bounds to stop the clock. Suddenly Essex found itself on the three-yard line and after a failed run attempt, Broaddus went to the air to connect with DeAndre Baylor who scored another touchdown with only 36 seconds left. Compton’s kick made it 28-14 at the half.
Essex came out storming in the second half, driving down field with short passes and landing on the five-yard line where Rahiem Rolling took the ball in. The kick made it 35-14.
The Falcons game play took on a sense of urgency. They were poised to score, with a good passing game, but De’Andre Baylor killed the Falcon drive when he grabbed a cross-field pass and raced out of the end zone to the Essex 45-yard line. During the play, the Falcons’ wide receiver Justin Bauserman was injured and carried on a flat board to an ambulance. He was only shaken up but did not return to the game. He was only one of several players who had rough landings in a game that saw several high-speed collisions. Only a few plays after he went off the field, play was stopped for several minutes as the Trojans’ Tyrell Ware was shaken up. Later, the Falcons’ top running back Jordan Umstead left the game with what appeared to be an aggravated leg or knee injury.
Toward the end of the third quarter, the Falcon defense came up big, and stopped the Trojans, regaining possession of the ball and driving to the Essex 15 where the Trojans’ James Green picked off an interception. The Falcon defense again answered the call, stopping the Trojans, and this time the Falcon offense delivered as quarterback Hayden Bauserman passed to Kolton Posten on a 20-yard play. On the two-point conversion attempt, Bauserman scored on a quarterback keeper to make it 35-22 with seven minutes left in the game.
Broaddus found Dartanious Jones on a 40-yard pass play for the next Trojan touchdown. When the two-point conversion failed, the scoreboard read, 41-22, with only 5:35 left in the game. On the ensuing kickoff, Leo Gaskins recovered a fumble, and moments later, Rahiem Rolling carried the ball in for 10-yard touchdown. Compton’s kick made it 48-22 with little more than five minutes left.
Central Woodstock scored on a seven-yard pass reception by Sam Barbour with only 37 seconds left. The two-point attempt failed making the final, 48-28.