Big plays help Monarchs overpower Warriors

When Meadowbrook and Matoaca took the field Friday night, both teams were playing for a shot to remain alive for the state playoffs. It was a game that was circled on the calendar for both opponents, and it didn’t disappoint, as the Monarchs defeated the Warriors 42-28 in a barn burner.

“We showed a lot about who we are tonight,” said Matoaca High School coach Pat Manuel. “We’ve got a lot of young players that will be coming back, people better watch out.”

Big plays were the name of the game, as Meadowbrook struck first on a 45-yard run by Mico Phillips to make the score 7-0. Phillips rushed for 55 of his 301 yards on that first drive en route to breaking two school records: The single season rushing record of 1,426 yards that was set by Lamar Callaway in 2006. Phillips will set the bar high with two games to go and a current total of 1,586 yards. He also broke the single game rushing record.

“At first, I didn’t know I was approaching a record,” said Phillips. “Then coach told me I was getting close, and I wanted to accomplish that my senior year and go out big.”

The Warriors would answer with a sustained drive led by quarterback Michael Birdsong. Matoaca would convert on a fourth and 13 to tie the game. A Meadowbrook fumble by Phillips would be recovered by Matoaca’s Khalil Coleman, but Meadowbrook wouldn’t allow points off the turnover.

After another Phillips touchdown run of 29 yards to take the lead and a missed extra point, Matoaca answered on a touchdown scamper by Dequan Turner to take the lead 14-13 at the 2:42 mark in the second quarter. The score held at the half.

In the second half, the Monarchs came out firing. Gerard Johnson connected with Akil Dorsey on a 43-yard touchdown catch in which Dorsey leapt and fully extended to catch the ball and score. Johnson converted the two-point conversion to give Meadowbrook the 21-14 advantage.

Two Warriors drives later, Meadowbrook’s Devin Woodley picked off Birdsong to set up Phillips’ third touchdown, this time from 10 yards out.

It appeared that Meadowbrook might be able to pull away, but, on a punt attempt by the Monarchs, Matoaca linebacker Cole Williams got into the backfield, blocked the punt and took it back 30 yards for the score. After a missed extra point, the Warriors trailed by just eight, 28-20.

Meadowbrook would answer again on Phillips’ fourth touchdown, this time of 33 yards, to extend the lead again. The Warriors were not done, though. After a big fourth-down stop, they drove 24 yards for a score as Birdsong hooked up with Tevin Johnson on a six-yard strike.

Another Birdsong pass was good for two, as senior tight end Brandon Brown brought the Warriors back to within seven, 35-28.

Matoaca attempted its fourth onside kick of the game, and while the first three were not successful, this one would be recovered by Matoaca’s Chris Nichols, setting up the potential tie.

The Warriors looked to be in business after another Birdsong pass to Tevin Johnson for 24 yards, but, off a deflected pass, Meadowbrook’s Akil Dorsey was able to pick off Birdsong, stopping the Matoaca drive. The big blow came next as the Monarch’s Gerard Johnson took off on a 26-yard run to seal the game.

The Meadowbrook defense recorded two interceptions, forced a fumble and sacked the quarterback seven times in the game. Renard Rowe recorded three of these sacks.

Meadowbrook also dedicated the fourth quarter of the game to friend of the team, Andy Lent, who is currently battling leukemia.

“Tonight’s game wasn’t just about staying alive for the playoffs,” said Dorsey. “We were playing for Andy, he’s going through some tough times right now.”

Meadowbrook will continue its playoff drive this Friday against rival Thomas Dale, a game that is set up nicely by such an emotionally charged win.

“Thomas Dale has done a good job of beating us,” said Taylor. “We have to bring our best game. Kevin Tucker is doing a really good job of keeping the tradition going at Dale.”

Matoaca will host Dinwiddie this Friday, and then finish up on the road at Thomas Dale. Both games for these teams kick off at 7 p.m.

L.C. Bird will host Manchester this week, with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
Thomas Dale was able to bring its record to .500 (4-4, 2-2 District) with a 42-0 romp over Colonial Heights. The Thomas Dale defense pitched a shutout against a Colonial Heights team that’s still looking for its first Central District win. Standouts for Thomas Dale included Cameron Strozier who had two interceptions and returned one of them for a touchdown. Demetric Jackson rushed for 96 yards and two touchdowns. Dale will play next week on the road against rival Meadowbrook.

Lloyd C. Bird also continued its winning ways, improving to 8-0 overall with a 42-6 whipping of George Wythe. L.C. Bird will be shooting for its 12th straight district title and will face Manchester next week on the road. Yahkee Johnson recorded another monster game for the Skyhawks, rushing for 207 yards and five touchdowns.


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