(The following was filed by RVA Sports Network correspondent Callie Yost on the September 29th game between Clover Hill and Cosby...)
On the road to the playoffs, the Clover Hill Cavaliers and Cosby Titans have faced many twists and turns.
The Cavaliers began their season in August with a 14-7 comeback win over Mills Godwin, then faced two tough losses. Clover Hill was determined for a victory. They earned their first win against George Wythe the following week. However, James River countered the Cavs' momentum in their next game, defeating them by eighteen points.
On the other hand, the Titans' season began with four consecutive losses against Thomas Dale, Matoaca, Manchester, and Huguenot respectively. However, their hopes were lifted with an exciting first win against George Wythe last week. Winning by twenty-five points over the Bulldogs gave Cosby a rush of confidence that ran into Friday's home game against the Cavaliers, Cosby thirsting for two consecutive victories.
With both Class 6, Region B teams entering the game with the same 1-4 record, the pressure was on. Only the top seven of eight teams in the region will advance to the playoffs, so, the already bitter rivalry between Clover Hill and Cosby intensified.
Despite antagonism between the two teams, both the Cavaliers and Titans supported a worthy cause Friday. Catherine Muir, sister of a Cosby student and niece of a Clover Hill teacher, was recently diagnosed with leukemia. In support of "Catherine's Fight", the Cavaliers participated in a blood drive Thursday, and the Titans sold orange spiritwear at the game. The players, coming together as members of the community, played with maximum intensity in honor of Catherine and the Muir family.
Cosby received to begin the game, showing might in the first quarter. Making strong passes, quarterback, and captain, Ashton Haskins effectively moved the ball up the field, setting up his running back Kamron Bryant for the first touchdown of the game just three minutes into the contest. The Titans pressured the Cavalier defense, scoring again less than five minutes later on a 20-yard run by freshman Ed Clark for a 14-0 Cosby lead.
As the Cavs tried to create their own offense, they fumbled the ball, a turnover occurring less than 30 seconds after the second Cosby touchdown. Cosby turned the fumble into points three minutes later as Kyle Lowe's field goal made it 17-0 Titans. The first quarter may not have ended in their favor, but Clover Hill was determined to close the gap. On offense, penalty flags and another fumble pushed them back, mental mistakes like a false start and delay of game. The fumble, recovered by Clover Hill, lost major yard loss. They recovered enough allow Wes Brownlee to get the Cavs on the board with a field goal to make the score 17-3 with less than six minutes to halftime.
Five minutes later, Clover Hill's persistence paid off; a long pass from quarterback Miles Evans to wide receiver Ray Eppes with just 8.1 seconds left in the half for a Cavalier touchdown. The extra point was blocked, however, making the halftime score 17-9 Cosby.
"We had a tough first half, and we thought we were gonna lose, but we didn't give up," Evans said later. The Cavaliers knew they'd have to bring their A-game in the second half to defeat Cosby for the first time in four years.
Clover Hill began the second half on offense, but an Evans pass would be intercepted by Cosby just 2:49 into the third quarter. Haskins used this opportunity to bring the Titans into the red zone with a pass to Ethan West. But the Cavalier defense, led by captain Derek Apple, did not allow them to score, and the ball was turned over on downs.
Cosby finally put points on the board late in the third quarter thanks to another big Haskins pass completion. Clover Hill returned the earlier favor and blocked the extra point attempt, making the score 23-9. The Cavalier offense refused to let that Titan score go unanswered, Eppes scoring again with 42 seconds left in the third. Yet another extra point was blocked, and with a quarter to go, Cosby's lead was 23-15.
Clover Hill had to step up their game in the fourth, and, a minute in, their defense recovered a Clark fumble. Later, outstanding defense from the Cavs held the Titans on another possession, forcing a punt. At the Cosby 45, Clover Hill had great field position. The passing game moved the team down the field, and Jarred Slater scored on a touchdown run to make it 23-21. The two-point conversion try to tie the game failed, and the Cavs were still down two.
It was a tug of war in the end as Clover Hill scrambled to get the ball back, Cosby trying to milk the clock. In the end, Clover Hill broke through as Evans, diving into the end zone, scored the game-winner with just thirty seconds left. Cosby had one more opportunity from midfield in the final seconds, but the Cavalier defense made a final stand and had come from behind for the 27-23 victory to move to 2-4 and stay in the Region 6B playoff race for now.
"The thing we did best tonight was a play as a team...all the men sacrificed as individuals and worked together," noted Clover Hill head coach John Fout.
When asked about the playoffs, Fout noted, "We're not thinking about the playoffs, but the next game. If we're playing together as a team, we're doing the right thing."
The next challenge for Clover Hill is a big one, at Homecoming Friday they'll face #7 L.C. Bird. The Titans get a Homecoming soon, too, October 13th hosting another ranked team in #4 Monacan.
The RVA Sports Network is your home for high school sports and more in Central Virginia! The home over 50 live high school and college game broadcasts annually on both 102.9 The Mater and exclusively on our Podbean app. Join us weekly for "In The Red Zone", live on Mondays at 6pm on The Mater, and on our website, and for "RVA Locals Only", Thursdays at 9:30am on 99.5/102.7 ESPN Richmond for interviews and more on the "Sports Huddle"! Follow us on Twitter at @TheRVASportsNet and on Facebook and Instagram at rvasportsnetwork.