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November 13, 2012

Eastern Region Rewind - Quarterfinals

The quarterfinal round of playoff action in the Eastern Region didn't disappoint. While there was a 50-plus point shutout and five of the games saw teams win by double-figures without any seeded upsets (unless you want to count a #5 seed beating a #4 seed with the same record going in), there was some drama. To go with some key injuries all around that had games up in the air, three were decided by a touchdown or less, and only two of the games were totally lopsided at half-time.

Let's take a look back at what transpired and a small peek ahead to what the matchups will be in the semifinals with the field shrinking . . .

Division 5 Quarterfinals:

#1 Lake Taylor 51, #8 Maury 0: Grabbing a 28-0 lead before the end of the first quarter, the Lake Taylor Titans pounced on the Maury Commodores immediately in a 51-point drubbing. The Titans got 129 yards rushing and two touchdowns from tailback Brandon 'Pork Chop' Moore, who scored a third touchdown on a 15-yard reception from Delmon Williams. Moore's backfield mate, Daquan Davis, added 114 yards rushing and 3TD's on five attempts. Maury's season closes out at 5-6 overall.

#2 Phoebus 35, #7 Heritage 7: The four-time reigning Division 5 State Champion Phoebus Phantoms grabbed their 21st consecutive playoff win by scoring 35 unanswered points to beat the Heritage Hurricanes. Tailback Tony Pittman ran for 154 yards and two touchdowns, while freshman quarterback Terrell Toliver threw for 95 yards and a pair of scores, both to ODU commit Riche Staton. Heritage, which saw PD Offensive Player of the Year Khalid Abdullah held to 52 yards rushing on 12 attempts, ends its season at 6-5 overall.

#3 Hampton 34, #6 Norcom 6: The Crabbers beat Norcom for a second time this season, jumping out to a 28-0 lead by half-time to firmly establish control in their quarterfinal matchup. Quarterback and Virginia Tech commit Deon Newsome rushed for 109 yards and a pair of touchdowns to go with 86 yards passing and 2TD's - - one each to ODU commit Daquin Moore and Umar Muhammad-Wyatt. Norcom finishes with a record of 6-5 overall.

#4 Lakeland 16, #5 King's Fork 15: Improving to 8-3 overall, the Lakeland Cavaliers advanced thanks to a 31-yard touchdown pass from Zach Super to Mike Piersawl, followed by a successful extra point try from Austin Brown, with 10 seconds remaining to edge their Suffolk rival. Antonio Jefferson helped set up the winning play with a 42 yard kickoff return. Jefferson was a threat at receiver with eight catches for 93 yards. For the second week in a row, King's Fork lost a game in which led with under a minute to play in regulation. The Bulldogs end its best year in school history at 7-4 overall.

Division 6 Quarterfinals:

#1 Ocean Lakes 34, #8 Granby 3: Despite watching star quarterback Corwin Cutler go down to injury trailing 3-0 at the end of one quarter, the Ocean Lakes Dolphins went on to score 34 straight points and push their record to 11-0 overall. The trio of Brandon Simmons, Jordan Bobo and Jaason Lewis combined for 177 yards rushing and 2TD's, while Myke Knox led the defensive effort with a pick six. Granby finishes the 2012 campaign with a 9-2 mark, both of their losses coming to teams who are currently undefeated.

#2 Oscar Smith 35, #7 Bayside 12: After a rocky start where QB Dashawn Blow got intercepted three times and they trailed 6-0 in the closing moments of the second quarter, the Oscar Smith Tigers got the spark they needed just before the half on Blow's 20-yard touchdown pass to Deshawn Hatten to give them a 7-6 lead going into the locker room. Oscar Smith then got touchdowns in the second half from Lakwon Chapel on an interception return, Jaylen Bradshaw on a pass reception and Marcus Smith on a run to roll past Bayside, which saw its season end at 8-3 overall in the final games of record-setting performers Taquan 'Smoke' Mizzell at running back and QB Deion Stitt.

#3 Salem 18, #6 Grassfield 13: Trailing 13-12 late in the fourth quarter, the Salem SunDevils took the lead on Andre Toran's 1-yard run and then buckled down in the red zone down the stretch to keep Grassfield out of the end zone to preserve a hard-fought victory without injured star quarterback Bucky Hodges. Starting for Salem was ninth grader Jarrel Lightbody, who completed 8 of 12 passes for 120 yards, while standout receiver Kwamane Bowens played a versatile role by accounting for 222 yards on offense and scoring on a 46-yard run. The Grizzlies finish at 8-3 overall.

Game Recap
Postgame Audio with Coach Robert Jackson

#5 Western Branch 23, #4 Bethel 21: In a battle between teams nicknamed the Bruins, Western Branch pulled it out with under a minute to go on Brady Schomburg's game-winning 30-yard field goal. Once again, Western Branch rode the legs of UCONN commit and standout tailback Josh Marriner, who racked up 173 yards on the ground and a touchdown on 30 attempts. Quarterback C.J. Thomas helped the Bruins convert all three of their fourth down opportunities, hitting T.J. Boothe and Brandon Addison through the air. Despite being out-gained on the year, Bethel had an impressive year that concludes at 8-3 overall.

Game Recap
Postgame Audio with Coach Greg Gibson

Division 5 Semifinals:

#4 Lakeland (8-3) at #1 Lake Taylor (11-0)
The Lakeland Cavaliers became the first Suffolk school to reach the semifinals of the regional semifinals at the Group AAA level by beating King's Fork in last week's quarterfinals. They've yet to play Lake Taylor in the postseason, and the Titans are two wins away from winning their first regional title since 1982. Lake Taylor has fallen in either the regional semis or title game in three of the last four years, losing each time to Phoebus. QB Delmon Williams of the Titans has still yet to thrown an interception in 11 games.

#3 Hampton (9-2) at #2 Phoebus (11-0)
For the second time in three weeks, these two Division 5 giants with numerous Championships in their trophy case square off with the stakes much higher this time as the winner gets to the regional title game the day after Thanksgiving, while the loser is done. It was tied at 21 all with three minutes to play in the regular season finale when Tony Pittman broke off a long touchdown run, and Richie Staton returned an interception for a score to put it out of reach. The Crabbers actually had more total yards in a loss.

Division 6 Semifinals:

#4 Western Branch (9-2) vs. #1 Ocean Lakes (11-0) at Va. Beach Sportsplex
Storyline: The Dolphins will be without starting QB and UVA commit Corwin Cutler, who tore his ACL in his knee in their playoff win over Granby. Without him, Churchie Harold makes his first career start under center. Ocean Lakes brings in the top-rated scoring defense in the region against Western Branch's Josh Marriner, the leading rusher in the rushing.

#3 Salem (10-1) at #2 Oscar Smith (10-1)
Where do you begin? There are so many. For starters, will Salem have QB and Virginia Tech commit Bucky Hodges at their disposal? He sat out last week's playoff win over Grassfield due to a hand injury. Oscar Smith, which has been dealing with injuries of their own to star wideout Zach Jones and junior defensive lineman Andrew Brown, has ended Salem's season each of the past two years in the playoffs, including in a thrilling 35-34 Eastern Region Division 6 Championship last November, won when they stopped a two-point conversion.

. . . Be sure to check back for Predictions of those four games, plus you'll want to see our Q&A with Lakeland Head Football Coach Glenwood Ferebee later this week!

Matthew Hatfield has covered Eastern Region Football & Basketball since 2004 for VirginiaPreps.com, part of the Rivals.com Network. Check out Hatfield's Twitter page for more sports related updates, and you can also read his work in the Suffolk News Herald. To contact Matthew, please e-mail [email protected], and don't forget to listen to him Saturdays from 10AM to Noon on ESPN Radio 94.1 plus watch him on the Cox 11 Sports Report.

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