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Black Knights End Drought
Black Knights end drought
It took Charlottesville 10 years and a nearly flawless performance by Chris Thurston to finally get the better of Louisa County again.
A decade after the Black Knights’ last win over the Lions, Charlottesville rolled 46-16 past Louisa, shoring up its playoff prospects with a critical district victory.
“All these kids can run, they’re tough, they’re hard-nosed and the best thing is that they’re buying in,” said Charlottesville coach Eric Sherry. “They’re buying in with everything we’re saying and I couldn’t be happier for them.”
Thurston rushed for 206 yards and four touchdowns on just 13 touches, pounding the ball just off tackle on stretch plays as his offensive line washed out Louisa’s defensive front consistently from the opening kick. Thurston raced 54 yards for a huge gainer on Charlottesville’s first offensive play from scrimmage.
“That was crazy — (that series of plays) just shuts everything down,” Thurston said. “They were washing them, all I have to do is see that hole.”
He had a trio of touchdown runs of more than 20 yards as he powered a Charlottesville ground game that went for 322 total yards. Thurston appears to be running with more purpose this season, but Louisa coach Jon Meeks thinks some other things have changed for the Black Knights’ standout running back.
“He’s always been the young guy going against three or four year older guys,” Meeks said. “He still looked special, but the body wasn’t there. Now you’re seeing him go against equals, and the kid’s real good. I like the way he runs.”
Thurston’s pounding running style and effectiveness helped open things up for the passing game where Rashard Davis was incredibly efficient on just nine passing attempts, completing five of them for 150 yards and two touchdowns. the scoring tosses came nearly back-to-back late in the second quarter, the first from 62 yards out to Isaiah Green, the second to Malik Bartee for a 36-yard catch on a seam pattern down the middle of the field.
Davis also had 69 yards including a 45-yard first half touchdown run in the game, with just six carries. Rashad Brock rounded out the bulk of the ground game with 38 yards on five touches.
Defensively the Black Knights were incredible on critical downs, allowing Louisa just four third down conversions on 12 attempts and one fourth down conversion of five different tries. Troy Hughes and Wade Kammauff helped create a lot of disruption in the Lions’ backfield. Gary Nelson, a senior, also had a fumble recovery. Louisa managed 339 yards of total offense but much of it came late after Charlottesville had pulled ahead.
“When we’re focused and we’re on and we understand what we’re supposed to do, we play pretty good ball,” Sherry said. “And the quarterback for them (Zack Jackson) is a tough kid to tackle. And he played all night, he’s a fantastic kid.”
Louisa couldn’t find a rhythm despite holding a sizeable advantage in time of posession, and three turnovers didn’t help. Jackson and the rest of the Lions refused to pack it in though.
“I’m sick of people (outside the program) talking about my kids not playing hard and quitting,” Meeks said. “They obviously haven’t watched the game. I saw a team that, realistically, the game is over, but they’re going no huddle, fighting to the death. I know they fight to the end for me. At the end of the day, this is on me, not the kids.”
The Lions scored with 4:28 to play and then recovered the ensuing onsides kick, but the offensive stalled out after that as the Black Knights flashed an improved ability to close out games. Jackson rushed for two touchdowns and 119 yards and threw for another 181.
Louisa’s playoffs hopes effectively end with the loss, as getting into the Division 4 bracket without running the table against CHS and next week against Western looks to be too tough of a task.
Charlottesville is now the seventh-rated team in Division 3 in Region II. With just Powhatan left on the schedule, the Black Knights largely control their own destiny.