WYTHEVILLE, Va. — Marooned!
Trey Skeens scored three touchdowns as George Wythe rallied for a dramatic 28-20 non-district victory over stunned Tazewell on Friday night.
Skeens, with 165 yards rushing, had scoring runs of 8, 14, and 34 yards to pace the Maroons (2-3) who scored 21 unanswered points.
Tazewell (4-1) led 20-7 at halftime but could not get untracked and was held scoreless over the final two quarters.
The loss spoiled another excellent effort by Tazewell runner Nick Blankenship, who scored two touchdowns and picked up 124 yards rushing on 25 carries. Malik Davis finished with 152 yards passing for the Bulldogs, playing on the road for the first time in five games.
Early on, it appeared that Tazewell might cruise to another win.
It took just three plays for the Bulldogs to get on the scoreboard. Blankenship sparked the march with a 52-yard scamper on his second carry and tallied the six-pointer on his next run from three yards out with 10:49 to play in the opening stanza. In an ominous preview of things to come, Tazewell could not convert on the extra point run — the first of three unsuccessful extra point tries. That left the Dogs ahead 6-0.
After a solid defensive stand, Tazewell came right back with another scoring march.
From his own 43, Davis dropped back and drilled a 36-yard completion down the right sideline to Jesse Mountain. That gave the Dogs a first down on the Maroon 21-yard stripe. Blankenship picked up 12 on the next carry to set up a first-and-goal inside the George Wythe nine.
George Wythe’s defense stiffened, but Blankenship was able to rush in for the touchdown from the one yard line on a fourth down play. The extra point run was stopped again and Tazewell led 12-0 in the first quarter with 7:13 remaining.
Skeens & Co. began their long battle back with a 64-yard, five-play scoring drive. Moore completed a sideline pass to Josh Duncan, good for 39 yards to keep the drive alive and set up a first down on Tazewell’s 21.
Maroon fullback Tyler Hardin’s nine-yard gain two plays later pushed George Wythe to a first-and-goal on the Bulldog 8. Skeens then powered in for his first score at the 4:26 mark in the first period. John Smith booted the PAT and the Maroons cut the deficit to five points, at 12-7.
Another strong defensive effort by the Bulldogs resulted in a safety and Tazewell moved in front, 14-7, with just over six minutes to play in the half.
What would prove to be the final Tazewell touchdown of the night came on the next series, as the Bulldogs composed an 8-play, 61-yard drive.
Blankenship ground out a first down and then Davis drilled a 19-yard completion to Mountain for a first down on the Wythe 33-yard marker. Davis then fired a spiral right down the middle of the field to Mountain, who outran the defense to score.
The kick, however, was not good and the Dogs held a 20-7 with 4:16 left in the half.
George Wythe slowly began to build momentum, pushing Tazewell back to its own 8-yard line with a long punt. The Maroons were unable to score, though, as Blankenship intercepted a Moore pass at the three with :08 seconds to go before halftime.
Led by Skeens and Monterick Phillips, George Wythe mounted a steady and withering comeback on the ground. Pounding the perimeter and then punctuating the march with thrusts up the middle, the Maroons racked up 167 third quarter rushing yards to only 10 for Tazewell.
Skeens capped a six-play, 60-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown and Smith kicked the extra point. Wythe trailed 20-14 at the 8:50 mark in the third quarter.
The Maroons got the ball back moments later and soon scored what would become the winning points. Starting from their own 18, the Wythe warriors marched 82 yards in only five plays. Skeens ran for 13, Phillips picked up 15 and a couple of plays later Skeens covered the final 34 yards on a reverse for the touchdown. Smith’s extra point kick with 3:24 remaining in the period put George Wythe in front 21-20, marking the first time in 22 quarters this season the Bulldogs had trailed in the second half.
Skeens had a whopping 131 yards rushing in the third quarter alone as George Wythe finished the period with a 167-32 edge in total yardage.
Moore put finishing touch on the evening. The Maroon quarterback eluded a host of tacklers in the backfield at around the 20-yard line, and raced alone into the end zone over the final 10 yards for a 32-yard touchdown. It came with 7:02 left in the game and Smith’s PAT split the uprights.
Davis and Mountain connected on a nifty 26-yard completion for Tazewell on fourth-and-10 with just under four minutes to play as the Bulldogs battled bravely, but Josh Duncan for the Maroons intercepted a pass at the 15.
Phillips and Skeens took command, helping GW to a couple of crucial first downs in the final 3:40 and the Maroons were able to run out the clock.
George Wythe held a 260-154 edge in rushing yards, while the Maroons got 59 more passing. Overall, Wythe had 319 yards to Tazewell’s 298. The Bulldogs finished with a minus-2 yards rushing in the second half, although they did hold a 13-12 edge in first downs for the game.
The Bulldogs travel to Maron to play the Scarlet Hurricane on Oct. 3.
At Pendleton Field
Tazewell..............................12 8 0 0 — 20
George Wythe.....................7 0 14 7 — 28
T - Blankenship, 3-yd. run (run failed) 10:49
T - Blankenship, 1-yd. run (run failed) 7:13
GW - Skeens, 8-yd. run (Sawyers kick) 4:26
T - defensive safety
T - Mountain, 30-yd. pass from Davis (kick failed) 4:16
GW - Skeens, 14-yd. run (Smith kick) 8:50
GW - Skeens, 34-yrd. run (Smith kick) 3:24
Moore, 32-yrd. run (Smith kick) 7:02