The GW Eagles opened the 2021 VHSL football playoffs with one of their best offensive performances in recent memory. They scored on their first nine possessions and overwhelmed the visiting Orange County Hornets, 63-21.
The only possession that did not end with a touchdown was the last one where the Eagles took a knee to run out the clock.
The Eagles (8-1) took advantage of great field position in the first quarter. Their first three drives started on the Hornet 44, 4 and 23 yard lines. The first came after a short Orange County punt following a three-and-out. The next came from a long kickoff return by Elijah Bridges. The third was courtesy of a big punt return from Kamori Dixon. All three drives ended on short touchdown runs from specialist quarterback Donovan Howard.
“We were able to change the field position a lot early on,” said GW Head Coach Nick Anderson. “I think we were able to finally get their attention two weeks ago about special teams.”
Orange County was able to answer the first touchdown with a 46-yard gallop from tailback Christian Simpson, but they never could keep the Eagles out of the end zone. Jakobe Dixon added a touchdown late in the first quarter to put GW up 28-7.
The Hornets continued to fight back. Senior Quarterback Paul Poirier capped off a long drive with a short touchdown run to cut the Eagles’ lead to two touchdowns. The Eagles answered back when Kamori Dixon scored his first high school touchdown on a 15-yard pass from Jeb Byrnes to make it a three score game.
The Hornets had more sting left in them. Poirier scored another touchdown to pull them back to within 14. But Jakobe Dixon added a second score just before the break to give GW a 42-21 halftime lead.
The second half was all Eagles. As the offense kept scoring, the defense tightened up, allowing only 65 yards in the third and fourth quarters while forcing two turnovers. Meantime, the Eagles got a fourth touchdown from Howard, a short pass from Howard to Omarion Hairston and a late scoring run from Razavier Carter.
“We’ve got a good group of kids,” Anderson said. They like each other, cheer each other on.”
Byrnes had a big night, going 16-for-20 passing for 222 yards and two touchdowns. He now has 18 touchdowns and only one interception this year.
Howard scored three rushing touchdowns, caught one and threw one. He had a hand in five of the Eagles’ nine touchdowns. He now has 15 touchdowns this year. That’s second only to Jakobe Dixon, who had two scores Friday to give him 16 on the year.
On defense, Ahmad Poole had a sack and another tackle for loss, while forcing a fumble. Will Daniel led the defense with 10 tackles and forced a fumble.
The 63 points tied a school record for points scored in a playoff game. The Eagles also put 63 on the board in a first round game against Fauquier County in 2014.
The Eagles advance to the second round of the playoffs next Friday. They’ll host the Western Albemarle Warriors who sport a 10-1 record. Western Albemarle advanced with a 28-7 home win over Halifax County.
“We’re doing pretty well,” Anderson said. “We’ve just got to keep going.”