Delivering On Potential

Delivering on potential

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Charlottesville’s Rashard Davis knew the Black Knights had the goods to knock off Monticello.

“We knew we could beat them,” said Davis.  “When we stay explosive [the whole game], we’ve got a nice team.”

He was right.

Charlottesville's Rashard Davis looks to pass Friday night against Monticello. Davis had four rushing touchdowns in the win over the Mustangs.

Davis, the Black Knights’ senior quarterback, rushed for all four CHS touchdowns — including an 88-yard sprint — while racking up 231 total yards (141 on the ground), which alone outpaced Monticello’s offense. Behind that effort, Charlottesville wrapped up a four-game homestand with a 28-7 thumping of Jefferson District rival Monticello on Friday night. It was the Black Knights’ first win over Monticello since 2004.

Despite expectations that an offensive shootout would unfold just like last year’s meeting, Charlottesville established the tone early with a pair of long, time-consuming drives. The Black Knights’ game-opening possession featured nine running plays and a pair of fourth down conversions before Davis ran in from 10 yards out. Their second drive consisted entirely of runs, capped by a 7-yard touchdown from Davis. When Monticello’s offense took the field for the second time in the game, they trailed 14-0 and 10:15 remained in the first half.

“Absolutely, I wanted to keep them off the field,” said Sherry. “The coaching staff makes fun of me because I’m always about the defense, but I can see it grinding and they’re getting better. You could see they were playing tonight. The shorter we made this game, the more it played to our favor.”

Monticello surprised everyone in attendance as senior backup quarterback Branden Beasley started and played most of the game. Coach Rodney Redd declined to comment on the quarterbacks, and why senior Jhalil Mosley, didn’t play in the game.

With Mosley on the sideline, the Mustangs’ offense centered almost exclusively around junior back T.J. Tillery. It took 13 plays over 7 minutes and 39 seconds before Tillery put Monticello on the board with a 3-yard touchdown run. Aside from Tillery’s 41 yards, Beasley connected with James Banks for 29 on third and 12, and Tyler Wagner carried three times for 25 yards. However, Davis helped Charlottesville respond quickly with the play of the night — the 88-yard keeper down the right sideline that electrified the CHS student section, and gave the Knights a comfortable 21-7 halftime lead.

“We knew we were going to have to be run-heavy, and at times we had some great success,” said Redd. “We did a little reshuffling [along the offensive line], and I do think the production was much better than it was the week before, and that was our focus coming in. Tonight, I don’t know that we played well enough defensively to win. We gave up some big plays early in the game, and obviously with the strategy we were going to implement, that wasn’t going to work.”

After the break, Charlottesville was content to control the field position battle during a quiet third quarter. Monticello failed to capitalize on Charlottesville’s lone turnover, a Josh Malm interception returned 25 yards into Charlottesville territory, going four-and-out.  The Black Knights then put the game away with a seven play, 53-yard drive over three and a half minutes.  Davis found Darius Watson for 27 yards on fourth and 7, then hit Chris Thurston for 22 yards down to the 1.  Two plays later, Davis plunged in to make it 28-7.

“I feel like we played well on first and second downs, but they just had guys make plays on third [and fourth] down,” said Redd.  “We’ve got to get off the field.”

Now with four weeks left in the regular season, both teams find themselves in surprising positions, at least relative to how things looked a couple weeks back.  Monticello (4-2, 0-2) has been outscored 56-7 in back-to-back Jefferson District losses, while Charlottesville (3-4, 2-0) will visit Western on Friday for a battle of district unbeatens.

“I’m not going to lie to you, [beating Monticello] is a big deal,” said Sherry.  “We’ve got to go to Crozet on Friday, and we’ve just got to keep getting better.”

“We know the things we have to work on,” said Redd.  “It’s not as much X’s and O’s as you would think.  I think now we have their attention, and some of the leaders on this team are ready to step up and show some of these other guys where they have to go.”

The Mustangs’ sudden mid-season slide has, at least momentarily, sent them well out of the running for a home playoff game. After sitting third in the Region II, Division 3 race entering the showdown with Western, Monticello now ranks sixth. Meanwhile, Charlottesville finds itself very much in the hunt for the eighth playoff spot.

For Monticello, Tillery’s final numbers did show marked improvement from the struggles against Western. He carried 25 times for 122 yards and a touchdown, and caught one pass for 14 yards.  However, even setting aside passing numbers given the apparently-temporary quarterback shakeup, defense and discipline could require more attention as Monticello prepares for a road trip to Turner Ashby (2-4, 2-1 Valley District) next week. The Mustangs were penalized 15 times for 107 yards, and surrendered 349 yards of total offense to the Black Knights.

“I feel like after a week of shuffling and having to take care of some things, we will be ready to operate at full strength, both offensively and defensively,” said Redd.

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