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November 30, 2013

Dinwiddie Pitches Another Shutout

Generals Dethrone Defending Champs: Three playoff games in the books, three shutouts for the Dinwiddie Generals. Hosting the reigning Division 5 State Champion Lake Taylor Titans, Dinwiddie continued its mastery of postseason football by blanking their visitors from Norfolk, 28-0 on Friday night.

Out of an empty set, Dinwiddie senior Ronald Kearney broke off a 71-yard touchdown on a quarterback trap play, going virtually untouched on his way to the end zone. That burst propelled the undefeated Generals, now 13-0 overall, to another dominating performance, and proved to be a sock in the gut that the Titans could never recover from.

"Lake Taylor had a really good football team and this was a defensive game. I can't be any prouder of my defense than I am," remarked Dinwiddie Head Football Coach Billy Mills afterwards. "They gave us opportunities, and Kearney started it off with a big play that got us rolling. The way that he played tonight, he just gets better and better as the week goes on."

So far this postseason, Dinwiddie has outscored foes 132-0. On the year, every win has been by at least 21 points. This win was the first over Lake Taylor, which had eliminated the Generals from the 1982 playoffs, 14-10. In addition, Dinwiddie became the first team to blank the Titans since Norcom did it 29-0 in 2010.

Mills was pleased to see his team's outstanding execution shine through at the right time. His team continues to dominate in just about every way imaginable, giving it a kind of special feel that could end in December in Lynchburg hoisting a trophy.

"Every game is win or [you're] out," Mills reminded. "They've done a good job of keeping it all in perspective, trying to get a little better every week, not get too high or too low, and my leaders have done a great job of keeping the rest of them that way."

Pitching Shutouts, Snatching Takeaways:
Besides pitching shutouts this postseason, the Dinwiddie defense is ripping the ball away from opponents. Friday night's performance marked their best yet. They came up with a season-high six takeaways, intercepting quarterback Shiheem Johnson and Nhyre Quinerly a combined five times.

Nabbing two turnovers apiece were junior defensive backs Denzel Williams and Malik Scott, whose interception with 4:55 remaining in the opening quarter eventually set up the team's second touchdown to give them a 14-point lead before the start of the second period.

"It all translates from the hard work we've put in during practice. Coaches push us to the limit, to raise the bar every week, and it's always about taking that next step. We've got a family that sticks together, play in and play out, and we know as long as we keep our heads that good things will happen," Williams said.

"The score didn't show it, but on the field they gave us a good opponent, a good matchup. Being able to get those turnovers were big. We had to keep on pounding away and knew we couldn't let up any because they could come back."

Williams was part of a hard-hitting defensive effort, finishing with a game-high 11 total tackles, seven of the solo variety. William & Mary commit Rashaad Goodwyn chipped in six total stops, and sack master John Branch (14 sacks on the year) added five tackles.

For Lake Taylor in defeat, Ohio State commit and All-American Jalyn Holmes recorded 10 total tackles, two for loss, to go with his season-high seven receptions for 48 yards on the offensive side of the ball. Marquise Poole tallied nine tackles.

Lake Taylor came in having turned the ball over 25 times on the year. Their six turnovers, three in each half, squandered a few scoring opportunities, including one drive to start the third quarter where they took 6:56 off the clock and were stopped at the Generals' four-yard line.

"I know they had put the ball on the ground. We had seen that from film. I told the guys they want to run the veer. If we can stop the veer, we're going to make them do stuff they don't want to do," Mills commented.

"I told them to get excited when that happens, make plays and we were resilient. They were getting us on a couple bubble [screens] and I was resistant to change the defense because I knew that they could break a dive any time for all of it."

Ground Gains: Rushing for 264 yards is a major plus for Dinwiddie and something of the norm in many ways. Seeing Lake Taylor give up 264 yards on the ground is no ordinary sight.

In fact, the Titans had held 28 straight foes under 200 yards rushing. It was the most rushing yards by a team on Lake Taylor's usually stingy defense since Churchland racked up 295 yards on the ground in a 2010 overtime victory over the Titans.

Keying the effort was senior Sadarius Williams, whose moves had Lake Taylor defenders often chasing him from behind instead of keeping the dangerous back in front of them. Williams rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns with two runs of 30 yards or longer, which included a 33-yard dagger late in the third quarter to put it out of reach.

Williams entered the contest with 1719 yards and 19 touchdowns rushing on 170 attempts. Another strong performance on the first Saturday in December should put him over the 2000-yard mark.

"Sadarius made some unreal [runs]. That second touchdown, to stay inbounds on that toss, and to kind of seal it with that last run to run over somebody, he's such a workhorse and such a great football player," stated Mills.

"They load the box and Coach Edwards, my o-line coach, is a genius. He does such a great job of pass protection, and that first play of the game he's the one that brought that to me. He said I think we can get this. I've got such a great coaching staff, they work their tails off, have been up here all week and I think my d-line coach slept here. I couldn't be more proud of them."

Third Down Conversions Pay Off:
Coming in, the Lake Taylor defense had been suffocating on third downs. Opponents converted only 10 of 112 tries against the Titans when faced in those situations.

Dinwiddie not only converted 3 of 8 on the night, they turned two into touchdowns with Williams' 11-yard tippy-toe touchdown run along the left sideline, plus Kearney's 30-yard touchdown pass to Rashad Stewart.

Kearney's sprint-out off of trips left and scoring pass to Stewart gave the Generals some breathing room against a Lake Taylor team that nearly rallied from 21 down earlier this season against L.C. Bird.

"On that, Kearney made an unreal run. He's such a coachable, good kid, and he's going to throw what I tell him regardless. I was hoping he was thinking along the same lines as me," Mills noted.

"Being together so long, he knew that I wanted him to hit the backside post and made such a great read. I love that kid. He's like a son to me, and all my kids are."

On all four of their third down tries in the first half, Lake Taylor came up empty. They also were 0 of 3 on fourth down, while Dinwiddie was 1 for 2.

Two Wins Away:
Dinwiddie is so close that they can taste a title. Two of the potential roadblocks to a State Championship, Phoebus and Lake Taylor from the Tidewater area with a combined eight crowns since 2001, are no longer alive. The Generals are one of four teams left in the 4A field.

Up next for Dinwiddie will be Heritage of Newport News, which defeated King's Fork 13-7 on Friday night to improve to 12-1 overall. It'll be the first postseason encounter between the Hurricanes and Generals since 2000, the year Heritage beat Dinwiddie 45-7 in the State Final.

The Hurricanes, who were winless three years ago, are a much different team than that one. They start a freshman quarterback in Jeremiah Boyd and are littered with juniors who have far less postseason experience than a Dinwiddie team with a boatload of seniors and three and four-year starters.

"We did get a chance to see them live against Phoebus, so we do have some idea of what to expect. I'm sure just like us, things change over the season and they'll have some different looks that we'll have to be prepared for. We'll have another big challenge and they're a good football team. You don't get this far and not be," Mills said.

"You look over on the board and you'll see all those goals over there. There will be another set up there this coming Monday. We'll come in here, lift weights, watch the film, and work on correcting some mistakes."

These days, the Generals are making too many mistakes. They now sit two wins away from an elusive state title.

Postgame Audio with Dinwiddie Coach Billy Mills

Final Stats: ***
Courtesy of STATVA & Mike Whittington (www.statva.com) ***

Dinwiddie Generals 28: (12-0 Overall)
Ronald Kearney - - 4-10 for 51Yds. 1-1TD/Int. ratio; 10Car. 83Yds. TD
Sadarius Williams - - 18Car. 144Yds. 2TD's
Dakarai Wilson - - 7Car. 20Yds; 2Rec. 22Yds.
Rashad Stewart - - 2Rec. 29Yds. TD
Denzel Williams - - 11 Tackles (7 Solo); 2INT's
Rashaad Goodwyn - - 6 Tackles (3 Solo)
John Branch - - 5 Tackles (4 Solo)

Lake Taylor Titans 0: (10-3 Overall)
Nhyre Quinerly - - 8-16 for 47Yds. 0-3TD/Int. ratio; 2Rec. 20Yds.
Shiheem Johnson - - 3-15 for 34Yds. 0-2TD/Int. ratio; 6 Tackles (5 Solo)
Marquise Poole - - 12Car. 62Yds; 2Rec. 13Yds; 9 Tackles (4 Solo), 3TFL
Marcus Hawkins - - 3Car. 10Yds.
Jalyn Holmes - - 7Rec. 48Yds; 10 Tackles (5 Solo), 2TFL
Marcus Carter - - 7 Tackles (4 Solo), Sack, TFL

Matthew Hatfield has covered football and 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 on High School Sports Talk Saturdays at 10AM on ESPN Radio 94.1, plus watch him on the Cox 11 Sports Report.

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