Ty’drez Clements

Graham running back Ty’drez Clements weaves his way past Ridgeview defenders while surrounded by G-Meb blockers during Saturday’s Region 2D championship football game at Mitchell Stadium, in Bluefield. Unbeaten Graham (13-0) will host Appomattox County (10-3) in Saturday’s VHSL Class 2 state semifinals. Kickoff will be at 2 p.m.

BLUEFIELD — Unstoppable seems like an understatement when considering Ty’Drez Clements’ performance on Saturday afternoon.

The Graham High School junior ran for 404 yards and seven touchdowns to help the G-Men defeat the Ridgeview Wolfpack 56-35 in their Class 2 state quarterfinal showdown — which doubled as the Region 2D championship game.

The 28 carries by the 5-foot-8 speedster contributed to Graham’s 533 total yards of offense, and left Wolfpack defenders pounding the turf of Mitchell Stadium in frustration.

Tony Palmer, head coach of unbeaten Graham (13-0), emphasized the contributions of the offensive line and defense in making those yards possible.

“Everybody did their job today, so I’m just proud of our guys,” Palmer said. “Total team effort. Ty’Drez played his tail off, the line blocked, we had guys make plays.”

Almost every yard was needed against Ridgeview (11-2). Though the Pack never led in the game, they forged a 21-21 tie with 4:45 left before halftime, and trailed by one touchdown, 35-27, at the end of the third quarter.

“It was a dogfight,” Palmer said. “That’s what you expect. That’s what it’s supposed to be, in a region championship. It pushed us to the limit, and we’ve got to get better for next week.”

Both of Ridgeview’s losses this season were incurred at Mitchell Stadium. Bluefield defeated the Virginia squad 44-24 at the end of the regular season.

Clements often lined up directly behind center and took shotgun snaps, getting him into the action instantly.

Palmer said, “We wanted to try to dominate the line of scrimmage. We felt like we had the advantage up front. We wanted to get the ball to our playmakers as fast as we can.”

“We’ve been running this, probably, for about a month now,” he said. “It’s good for us. It fits us.”

After some prompting, he said the arrangement, which included two linemen offset as blocking backs, was his idea.

“I haven’t seen anybody (else) run it,” he said. “I thought about it, and we did it.”

Ridgeview gained 56 yards rushing and 237 through the air, despite sophomore quarterback Ryan O’Quinn being harassed all afternoon by the Graham defensive line. Cannon Hill had four catches for 111 yards and ran for 51 more on 16 attempts.

Palmer said, “We knew that they had talented players on the outside … so we bracketed them, and we tried to change coverages, and put as much pressure on their quarterback as we possibly could.”

It didn’t take long for Graham to get the upper hand. Braden Watkins picked off O’Quinn’s pass on Ridgeview’s first offensive play and returned the football 27 yards.

“I batted it, and I saw it, and I caught it,” Watkins said. “I was so excited. … It was a huge adrenaline rush to start off the game.”

Palmer said with a smile, “That was great. I thought we were ‘in the building’ at that point. I thought we were ready to roll.”

Little more than two minutes into the contest, Graham quarterback Brayden Meadows crashed through a huge hole in the line for the first of eight touchdowns scored in the first half.

A fake punt on Graham’s next possession produced a 71-yard pass completion from Jonathan Shockley to Jamel Floyd, setting the G-Men up at the Ridgeview 3.

Clements, taking the direct snap, burrowed into the end zone from there. Dylan Nash’s extra point gave Graham a 14-0 lead.

That was the first of three touchdowns in a 39-second span on the scoreboard clock.

Ridgeview’s Hill ended the shutout with a 5-yard touchdown run. Graham’s Chris Edwards countered with a 63-yard kickoff return, setting up Clements’ next TD run.

O’Quinn scored on the ground late in the first quarter and passed for a touchdown a few minutes later. The extra-point kick tied things up 21-21 — for less than a minute.

Clements ran for touchdowns of 61 and 65 yards to give the home squad its halftime advantage, which they never gave up.

Hill caught a pair of touchdown tosses from O’Quinn after halftime, but that was more than offset by Clements’ three scoring runs in the fourth quarter.

Clements said he was motivated by the bitter memories of Graham’s elimination from the championship hunt last fall.

“The thoughts about last year, just knowing how we fell short last year, that just kept repeating in my head, and I didn’t want that to happen again this year,” he said.

“We felt good, as a whole team.”

Graham was dogged by 12 accepted penalties for 141 yards. Many of the flags wiped out big yardage gains by the offense. Ridgeview was flagged with four accepted penalties. Clements said that he did not let the referee’s flags bother him.

“The coaches say, ‘Don’t let one play slow you down. Just keep going.’ So I just keep going,” he said.

Ridgeview head coach Dewayne Stanley said, “I thought we played hard enough to go on; we just didn’t play well enough. They (Graham) did. They made play after play. Their defensive line played outstanding.”

Stanley said, “Nobody wants to end the season with a loss. But the community support we’ve had … that’s what football is about. It’s not always about winning. It’s about everybody coming together.”

The G-Men move on to the final four of Class 2 football. On Saturday, Graham will host a state semifinal game against Appomattox County, which defeated Glenvar on Friday night.

Game time for next Saturday has not yet been officially announced.

Palmer said about ACHS, “They’re a good team. They’ve been there before. It’s going to be a dogfight.”

“We’ve got to get better. I say it, week after week. We’ve got to work on us.”

At Mitchell Stadium

Ridgeview ……. 14 7 6 8 — 35

Graham ………. 21 14 0 21 — 56

First Quarter

Gra — Brayden Meadows 4 run (Dylan Nash kick), 9:38

Gra — Ty’Drez Clements 3 run (Nash kick), 4:34

Ridg — Cannon Hill 5 run (Connor Smith kick), 4:10

Gra — Clements 19 run (Nash kick), 3:55

Ridg — Ryan O’Quinn 5 run (Smith kick), 3:13

Second Quarter

Ridg — Gabe Hackney 7 pass from O’Quinn (Smith kick), 5:35

Gra — Clements 61 run (Nash kick), 4:45

Gra — Clements 65 run (Nash kick), 2:07

Third Quarter

Ridg — Hill 35 pass from O’Quinn (kick wide left), 3:24

Fourth Quarter

Gra — Clements 9 run (Nash kick), 9:11

Gra — Clements 30 run (Nash kick), 7:10

Gra — Clements 71 run (Nash kick), 5:48

Ridg — Hill 15 pass from O’Quinn (Hill pass from O’Quinn), 3:13

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INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — Ridg, Cannon Hill 16-51, Ryan O’Quinn 14-4, Daquan Proffitt 2-1. Gra, Ty’Drez Clements 28-404, Brayden Meadows 5-21, Daniel Jennings 3-38, Jamel Floyd 3-8, Chris Edwards 1-0, Team 4-(—5).

PASSING — Ridg, O’Quinn 11-28-237-3 TD-2 intc. Gra, Meadows 1-6-(—4)-0-1; Jonathan Shockley 1-1-71-0-0.

RECEIVING — Ridg, Brandon Beavers 2-101, Koda Counts 3-16, Gabe Hackney 1-7, Branson Honaker 1-2, Cannon Hill 4-111. Gra, Floyd 1-71, Edwards 1-(—4).

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TEAM STATISTICS

First downs, Ridg 10, Gra 15. Rushes-yards, Ridg 32-56, Gra 44-466. Passing yards, Ridg 237, Gra 67. Total yards, Ridg 293, Gra 533. Passes comp-att-intc, Ridg 11-28-2, Gra 2-7-1. Fumbles-lost, Ridg 1-0, Gra 0-0. Penalties-yards, Ridg 4-40, Gra 12-141.

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