Middlesex rally falls short in 29-27 loss
|Middlesex wingback Jeremy Rich powers from the grasp of a Mathews defender during Thursday night’s 29-27 Blue Devil win in Saluda. (Photo by Larry Chowning)|
by Larry S. Chowning
Mathews held off the upset-minded Middlesex Chargers 29-27 in the season finale for both teams in Saluda Thursday night.
The Chargers had the ball first and were stopped on downs. When the MHS center hiked the ball over the punter’s head, Mathews ended up with the ball on the Charger 18 yard line. Two plays later, the Blue Devils scored and also made the two-point conversion to go ahead 8-0.
Middlesex answered when the Chargers recovered a fumble in the first quarter and Ronnie Watkins eventually scored on a 24-yard touchdown run with 1:15 left in the period. Brett Chodorov kicked the extra point to cut the Mathews lead to 8-7.
After the touchdown, Mathews returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown with 58 seconds left in the first quarter. Mathews added the extra point kick to go ahead 15-7.
The Blue Devils scored again in the second quarter on a 10-play, 65-yard drive. The touchdown came on a 6-yard touchdown run with 46 seconds left in the first half. Mathews kicked the extra point to lead 22-7 at the half.
The third quarter was scoreless for both teams, but Middlesex rallied in the fourth quarter with three touchdowns. Those successful Mathews’ extra points would come back to haunt the Chargers at the end of the game.
Middlesex’s first fourth quarter score came with 11:40 left in the game when Shawn Lee scored on a 22-yard run that capped a 10-play, 59-yard drive. The Chargers missed the extra point, and the score was 22-13.
The second Middlesex touchdown came with 7:57 remaining when Watkins scored on a 4-yard run. Watkins also tallied the two-point conversion and the Chargers pulled to within a point at 22-21.
Mathews answered with a touchdown and extra point with 3:46 to play to take a 29-21 lead.
With 1:22 left, Lee scored on an 8-yard run for Middlesex to cut the lead to 29-27. The TD was set up by Lee’s 30-yard kickoff return. The Chargers had a chance to tie the game and force overtime, but their two-point conversion attempt failed.
Lee has his best rushing game of the season with 117 yards on 11 carries. Watkins carried the ball 21 times for 112 yards.
Kris Baylor completed 7 passes for 112 yards and threw one interception. He also rushed for 25 yards on 6 carries.
Eades caught 3 passes for 65 yards, and Jeremy Rich caught four passes for 47 yards.
The Chargers ended their season 1-9 overall and 1-4 in the Tidewater District.
Colonial Beach (5-0, 10-0) won the regular season district title and was followed by King William (4-1, 6-4), West Point (3-2, 7-3), Mathews (2-3, 4-6), Middlesex (1-4, 1-9) and King and Queen (0-5, 0-10).
The Chargers’ season was riddled by injuries. Five starters were out for most of the season. Standout tight end Michael Eades only played in three games due to a knee injury.
“I am happy with the way we ended our season,” said MHS head coach Heath Cockerham. “We have had a lot of injuries and have a lot of young players on the field. This has given them some experience that will be valuable to us next season.”