Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

November 17, 2012

Cave Spring topples Richlands

RICHLANDS, Va. — James Jackson stands 5-foot-6, but the senior running back for the Knights of Cave Spring stood tall on Friday night.

Jackson ran for 219 yards and touchdowns of 37 and 86 yards to help his team defeat Richlands 31-6 at a chilly Ernie Hicks Stadium-EMATS Field.

The Blue Tornado’s season ended in the Region IV, Division 3 semifinals for the first time since 2009. Last fall, Cave Spring ended Richlands’ year in the finals.

Richlands head coach Greg Mance said, “The best team won tonight. Cave Spring came out here and did a great job. We knew we had to play mistake-free, and we knew we had to run the football. We just couldn’t run it with any consistency.”

Mance said, “We’ve had injuries and some adversity we’ve had to play through, but I’m proud of these football players right here, tonight. They battled to the end, and they never quit, and that’s what Richlands football is all about. We just didn’t make enough plays tonight.”

Cave Spring head coach Tim Fulton said, “You’re playing a good Richlands football team that’s strong, and well-coached. That’s how it ought to be at this level — two good, strong football teams.”

Neither team came close to scoring in the first quarter, which was marked by a 12-play Richlands drive that ended with a partially-blocked field goal attempt.

The first big break in the game came early in the second quarter when Richlands was flagged for roughing the Cave Spring punter. That penalty placed the ball at the Blues’ 37, and on the next play Jackson zipped off right tackle to the goal line. An 11-play march late in the half yielded a 27-yard field goal by the Knights’ Daniel Seymour with 1:20 left.

Richlands tried a late foray to get some points on the board before the break, but it backfired when Cave Spring defensive back Jon Evans picked off a pass from Ben Brown.

With less than a minute to work with, the Knights covered 65 yards to paydirt. Connor Baker’s pass dropped into the arms of Evans in the right side of the end zone for a touchdown with eight seconds remaining in the half, and the Knights led 17-0.

Mance said, “We gave up that past there at the end of the half and they had no timeouts. I thought that was the difference in the game.”

In the second half, Cave Spring scored on Jackson’s 86-yard run up the middle and another rainbow pass from Baker to Evans that spanned 40 yards.

Fulton said, “James (Jackson) is a solid running back. He moved into our starting role for his ability to pass block. ... He’s been searching for those breakout runs, and tonight, obviously, he was able to just keep those feet moving.”

“He’s not the tallest, but he is strong, and he keeps those legs moving. He just does a great job finding the hole.”

In between the visitors’ scores, Richlands managed its lone touchdown. Three Cave Spring penalties helped the Blues on a 55-yard march. On third down, Brown tossed the ball to the goal line, where senior Michael Horton out-jumped a defender to tally a nine-yard score.

The Knights’ Sebastian Wellford intercepted the two-point conversion pass and Richlands was behind 24-6.

Horton said about the touchdown, “We saw a mismatch out there, so Coach Mance told me to go out there and try my best to get up and catch the ball.”

“I knew I was going to try real hard.”

Horton said about Brown’s effort, “He did a great job tonight. The stats might not show it, but he did a great job.”

Fulton said that on defense, “Our plan, actually, was to deal with some formations that were going to present us some problems. ... For the most part, I thought we did a pretty decent job with it. ... Our defensive line did a good job up front.”

Richlands senior Tyler Brooks pounced on Cave Spring’s third fumble of the night to give the Blues their final offensive series with 1:11 left in the game. A sack of Brown by T.J. Vaught ended that possession.

The Knights allowed Richlands 60 net rushing yards and 141 through the air. Cave Spring put up 363 yards of offense.

Todd McGlothlin led the Tornado receivers with six catches for 61 yards. Horton caught four passes and made five tackles with one assist. Colton Staten ran 15 times for 50 yards for Richlands, but injured his leg late in the fourth quarter.

Asked about his memories of his years playing high school football, Horton said, “I will always remember my past seniors ... We’ve had some great players in the past. I hope I’m remembered as one of them.”

Richlands senior Eric Johnson said about facing Cave Spring again, “I was thinking revenge, but it didn’t turn out that way. We gave 100 percent effort. We just played a better ball team.”

— Contact Tom Bone at

tbone@bdtonline.com

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