Last season, it was Manchester that upset Bird 21-13. The loss at the time gave Manchester an upper hand in the Dominion District standings, but Bird went on to win their 12th straight Dominion District title. This season, both Manchester and Bird are viewed as favorites to contend for the title once again. In a hard fought contest, the Skyhawks were able to come from behind to beat the Lancers 19-10 and avenge last year’s loss on Friday evening at L.C. Bird high school.
“This win gives us a lot of confidence,” said Bird running back Paul Robertson. “We’ve been preparing for them since August, and a lot of people thought we’d take another loss from them this season.”
The Skyhawks were able to notch their second come-from-behind victory of the season, as they trailed Manchester into the fourth quarter. Bird also came from behind to beat Thomas Dale in the last thirty seconds of their week one battle.
“We just keep fighting and stay in there,” said Robertson. “We had to come from behind to beat Dale; it feels great to get a win like this.”
After the two teams battled through a scoreless first quarter, the Lancers drew first blood as quarterback Ty Moss connected with wide receiver Devin Cunningham for a 57-yard touchdown. Two drives later, the Skyhawks would answer as junior transfer quarterback Terrance Ervin threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to junior wide out Shawn Payne. The extra point was no good, leaving the score at 7-6.
Just before the half, Manchester’s Colin McFadden kicked a 30-yard field goal to extend the Lancer lead to 10-6.
Bird accumulated 257 yards of total offense in the first half, but suffered a loss of 91 yards through penalties and had a long touchdown run called back due to an infraction.
“Those are the types of mistakes that will be made,” said Bird head coach David Bedwell. “We have to learn from those and minimize them.”
Most of the second half was a defensive stalemate, with both teams moving the ball, but failing to score any points.
In the fourth quarter, Bird would finally break the Manchester defense, take the lead on a three-yard run by Robertson at 19-10 with 6:30 left in the game. The Skyhawks would stop the Lancers best attempt at a scoring drive as junior linebacker Deion Taylor picked-off a pass with less than a minute left to play. This was just one of the many plays Bird made when needed on defense.
“Coach Tony Nicely always does a great job of putting our guys in the right places,” said Bedwell. “The defense did a great job tonight.”
Robertson led Bird with 244 yards on the ground and a touchdown, and carried the ball 45 times. Ervin passed for 166 yards and threw a touchdown. Linebackers Justin Pallimore and Darius Gillus both registered eight tackles for the Skyhawks.
“Paul Robertson is a warrior,” said Bedwell. “When you put the ball in his hands he’s going to give you everything he’s got, he’s the type of player you can build success on.”
Robertson has proven to be an impact player for the Skyhawks this season, as he has totaled 474 yards and five touchdowns through just three games.
Bird will take its 3-0 record (2-0 Dominion) on the road to try and make it three for three in the Dominion when they face James River at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
In other action, Thomas Dale defeated Petersburg 32-8 in an all-around great performance. Running back D.J. Reid rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns while quarterback A.J. Holliday threw for 146 yards and a touchdown. The Knights improved to 1-0 in the Central District and 1-2 on the season. Dale travels to Matoaca Friday for a 7 p.m. kick-off. Rounding out the schedule, Meadowbrook will host Hopewell at 7 p.m.