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December 22, 2013

North wins first Big River Rivalry game

On Saturday afternoon some of the top seniors from area high schools around the Richmond area took the field one final time in an all-star football game at Randolph Macon College in the Inaugural Big River Rivalry football game.  The team consisted of two teams, the North and the South with the geographic location of the student-athlete's high school determining which squad the individuals played for. 

 From start to finish, there were great performances aplenty but this player showcase turned into a down to the wire thriller that wasn't determined until the games' final play.  Here's a recap of the game and some of the top individual performances.

South  --  3  13  6  12  --  34
North  --  14  0  15  6  --  35

Scoring Summary

First Quarter
N-Kyriee Warren 31 yard run (Cyrus Rohani-Shukla kick), 7:31
N-Quentin Fowlkes 2 yard run (Cyrus Rohani-Shukla kick), 5:00
S-Jay Klein 35 yard field goal, 0:30

Second Quarter
S-Markeice Street 63 yard pass from Tabyus Taylor (Jay Klein kick), 7:54
S-Jonathan Duhart 47 yard pass from Trevor Luke (kick failed), 3:25

Third Quarter
N-Nathaniel Roscoe 85 yard kickoff return (Cyrus Rohani-Shukla kick), 11:49
S-Wesly Reed 15 yard pass from Tabyus Taylor (kick blocked), 9:02
N-Sinclair Farinholt 26 yard pass from DJ Johnson (Donavan Dowling pass from DJ Johnson), 6:56

Fourth Quarter
S-Tabyus Taylor 21 yard pass from Trevor Luke (kick failed), 11:15
S-Tabyus Taylor 6 yard run (conversion failed), 5:27
N-Nathaniel Roscoe 7 yard run (conversion failed), 1:16

Final Score North 35, South 34

Summary by Half

First Half

When the Big River Rivalry got underway, the South team allowed the North to take to the scoreboard first by building a two score lead that was the direct result of three South turnovers on their first three possessions of the game.  Varina's Leander Cutler recovered a fumble for the North team on the opening drive of the game but the team was unable to convert on a fourth and two play on the South nine yard play and came up empty handed with a turnover on downs.

It only took three plays for the North defense to come up with another takeaway when Asaad Powell from Highland Springs snagged an interception giving the teams' offense possession at the South 31 yard line.  On the very next play, Kyriee Warren rumbled into the endzone covering the distance on a run play that allowed the North to take a quick 7-0 lead.  

The South offense never got a chance to take the field after a fumble by the teams' kickoff return unit was recovered by the North for the third turnover in the early stages of the game.  With another short field, the North extended their lead quickly.  Led by quarterback DJ Johnson of Highland Springs, the team spanned 32 yards on a drive that began with a four yard dash by Johnson.  The signal caller completed a pair of passes to move the North inside the ten yard line and that's when Quentin Fowlkes capitalized with a two yard rushing score to extend the North lead.

Before the end of the opening quarter, the South finally made a mark on the scoreboard when Jay Klein capped a 12 play, 4:21 drive with a 35 yard field goal on the first possession for the South that didn't end with a turnover.

Following the first North turnover when the second quarter got underway, the South continued to add to their momentum while cutting the deficit when Markiece Street took a screen pass from Tabyus Taylor (above) 63 yard yards for a touchdown.  During the run after the catch, the Petersburg senior exhibited his shiftiness and open field speed as he raced past the North defenders on the way to paydirt.  An interception by Monocan's George Parker prior to the South drive setup the offensive possession for the South.

** Audio - Tabyus Taylor **

The North offense quickly responded when DJ Johnson found Kevon Cooley for a 60 yard strike in the middle of the field that gave the team a goal-to-go situation just seconds after the South score.  The unit was stifled inside the ten on three offensive plays and sent out their kicker for a field goal attempt but the kick sailed wide and the North was left empty handed on the redzone opportunity.

Taking over at the 20 yard line, the South came out firing with Trevor Luke taking the reins under center for the team.  Luke completed his first four passes of the day and to three different receivers while fluidly moving the offense down the field.  After a 20 yard passing play to Manchester's Jonathan Duhart, Luke found Rasheed Worsham for a 12 yard strike that moved the team into opponents' territory.

** Audio - Jonathan Duhart **

After a run for the South offense netted no gain, Luke went back to Duhart who hauled in the pass and made several North defenders missed on his way to a 47 yard touchdown score while give the South their first lead of the game.  The two teams traded possessions before the break but neither was able to manage to generate much of an attack and the South took a 16-14 lead into intermission.

Second Half

The action packed first half of the game was simply a prelude of things to come when play resumed in the second half.  With the members of both teams becoming more and more comfortable with their teammates that were playing alongside them, things were taken to another level in the second half.

Nathaniel Roscoe wasted no time adding to his highlight reel when the Hermitage running back took the opening kickoff of the second half 85 yards on the return and quickly helped the North team re-take the lead as he crossed the goalline.  

The South answered the score with a touchdown of their own on the ensuing drive.  Two passes for large gains by Tabyus Taylor led to the retaliating score.  A 34 yard completion to Terelle Whitaker sparked the drive and a 15 yard strike to Wesly Reed resulted in a 15 yard touchdown that allowed the team to pull back ahead.

When the North offensive unit came back on the field, scoring continued to highlight the theme of the second half.  DJ Johnson opened the drive by calling his own number on a pair of runs that gained 14 yards in total.  After a rush by Roscoe, Johnson found Kevon Cooley for the tandems second connection of the day, this time for a 24 yard gain.  Two plays later, Johnson delivered a pass to Sinclair Farinholt from 25 yards away that allowed the North to recapture the lead.  A two point conversion attempt was successful when Johnson lobbed a pass to Donavan Dowling (above) that the 6-foot-2, 206 pound receiver was able to pull down on an acrobatic catch in the corner of the endzone.

** Audio - Donavan Dowling **

Finally, defense found its way to the forefront in the final minutes of the third quarter with each teams' defense recording a turnover.  Asaad Powell recorded his second interception of the day for the North but the team didn't hold the ball for long against an aggressive South defense.

A surge on a pair of plays by Tyler Smith resulted in two sacks for the South during the final drive for their opponent in the quarter.  The second in the stretch resulted in a fumble that Smith was able to come up with to give his team the ball heading into the game's final quarter.

The South offense took advantage of their short field when things began in the fourth when Trevor Luke found Tabyus Taylor for a 21 yard score.  It appeared that the South was putting things together to clamp down a victory on the next set of events that occurred.  

First, Dinwiddie's O'Neal Shell hauled in an interception for the South defense and then Taylor added to the teams' lead with a six yard rushing touchdown that extended the South lead to 34-29 with just over five minutes remaining in the game.

With just about everything going against them as the game winded down the stretch, the North team was forced to put together a drive if they were going to escape with the game with a win.  The squad did just that with a solid performance put together by Johnson.  The quarterback navigated the North inside the 10 yard line with a two yard rush on third down to give his team first and goal with just over a minute remaining in the game.

On the very next play, Roscoe scored on a seven yard rush that put the North up 35-34 but left enough time on the clock for the South to have one final crack at scoring.  Things became very interesting when Trevor Luke found Jonathan Duhart on a pass on second down and the Lancers wideout went for a 60 yard gain giving the South their own goal-to-go scoring chance.

The North defense was able to keep the South out of the endzone on the next three plays but with the South trailing by just one point, the team marched its' field goal team onto the field.  Jay Klein setup for a 25 yard game winning kick but when he connected with the ball it sailed wide.  Prior to the snap, the North team had called a timeout which left the kicker with a second attempt.  Facing an intimidating rush by the North defensive front, Klein moved towards the placed snap and almost instantaneously as he connected with the ball, Cedric Bridges (above) outstretched arms reached the kick attempt blocking it and securing the North victory in a heart pounding conclusion to the game.

** Audio - Cedric Bridges **

Top Performers

With such an action packed game that had big plays on offense, defense, and special teams, it is difficult to comprise a list of top players without leaving someone who deserved praise off the list.  Here's my best attempt at narrowing down the top performers with almost expectantly someone missing.


Nathaniel Roscoe, Hermitage
The running back gained just 20 yards on eight carries but had two pivotal scores that helped his team secure the "W".  Roscoe's kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half halted momentum from a South squad that had previously scored 16 unanswered points after trailing early.  His second score was eventually deemed the game winner when the senior rushed into for a seven yard touchdown run with just over a minute remaining in the game.

DJ Johnson, Highland Springs
The quarterback provided a dual threat for the North team and led all quarterbacks on the day in passing yards.  Johnson completed 10 of 18 pass attempts for 194 yards and one score while adding 44 yards rushing on ten attempts.

Asaad Powell, Highland Springs
The 5-foot-9, 175 pound cornerback led the charge for a defensive unit that forced four takeaways on the day.  Powell intercepted the South offense twice on the day with the first takeaway leading the initial points in the days' game.  The second was key in slowing down an offensive unit that showed the potential to score on nearly every possession in the second half of the game.

Cedric Bridges, John Marshall
With the South prepared to kick a game winning field goal in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, the safety was able to rush the edge and come up with a game saving block from his position on the North special teams unit and end his high school playing career in dramatic fashion.


Tabyus Taylor, Hopewell
The quarterback showed his versatility with a hat-trick type performance with scores passing, rushing, and receiving during the days' game.  Starting at quarterback for the South, Taylor completed 8 of 15 pass attempts for 173 yards and two touchdowns.  He later found himself on the receiving end of a score when he hauled in a 21 yard reception and then Taylor concluded the scoring for his team with a six yard rushing score.  On the day, Taylor accumulated 69 rushing yards on 18 attempts.

Trevor Luke, Thomas Dale
Alternating at signal caller for the team with Taylor, Luke had an impressive outing as well through the air with five completions on 10 pass attempts while totaling 160 yards through the air and a pair of scoring passes for his team.  

Jonathan Duhart, Manchester
The Old Dominion commit finished the game with four receptions for 141 yards and a touchdown in a solid effort.  Duhart displayed his ability to run after the catch with two big plays that proved to be critical for his team.  The first long gain went for a touchdown when Duhart scored on a 47 yard pass.  His next gain that resulted in 60 yards setup his team for a chance to score the game winning points but the team was unable to take advantage.

Tyler Smith, Hopewell
The 6-foot-3, 265 pounder was a force on the defensive line for a South unit that applied pressure throughout the day to the North quarterbacks.  At one stretch during the game, Smith recorded back-to-back sacks and came up with a fumble recovery during the same sequence.

** Audio - Tre'Shawn Blackston **

Team Statistics
S                     N
First Downs            15                   16
Rushes-yards       32-97              31-79
Passing yards      333                   277
Passing                  13-25-4-2       14-28-1-2
Punts-avg                --                     1-45
Fumbles-lost         4-2                   2-1
Penalties-yards     2-7                  3-30

Individual Statistics

Rushing-South, Tabyus Taylor 18-69 (1 TD), Sadarius Williams 10-30, Earl Hughes 4-(--2).  North-DJ Johnson 10-44, Kyriee Warren 6-43 (1 TD), Nathaniel Roscoe 8-20 (1TD), Quentin Fowlkes 4-7 (1 TD), Bryce Hamilton 3-(-31).

Passing-South, Tabyus Taylor 8-15-173-2-2.  Trevor Luke 5-10-160-2-2.  North, DJ Johnson 10-18-194-1-0, Bryce Hamilton 4-10-83-0-2.

Receiving-South, Jonathan Duhart 4-141 (1 TD), Markeice Street 2-63 (1 TD), Rasheed Worsham 4-38, Terelle Whitaker 1-34, Tabyus Taylor 1-21 (1 TD), Earl Hughes 1-21, Wesly Reed 1-15 (1TD).  North- Kevon Cooley 2-84, Sinclair Farinholt 2-43 (1 TD), Kyriee Warren 1-39, Donavan Dowling 2-30, Noah Dziedzic 2-29, Josh Harris 3-29, Tre'Shawn Blackston 1-16, David Dyer 1-7.

Robert Edmonds joined the Virginia Preps staff midway through 2013.  He covered the Piedmont area for the site during the 2013 football campaign and provides insight on player profiles and recruiting news for players from around the state.   He has been contributing sports coverage in the newspaper industry since 2006 and also currently does correspondence work with The Daily Progress in Charlottesville.  Follow him on twitter @bigrob2523 and send comments and suggestions to him directly at bigrob2523@gmail.com.

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