Friday was the first day of fall, and that means that the district part of the schedule has kicked for area teams and Capital District is second-to-none when it comes to putting on a top-flight performance.
While all eyes were on the showdown between Highland Springs and Lee-Davis, it was the game at Henrico High School that had everyone on pins and needles from the second half until the final play.
And for the second straight year, the Henrico-Patrick Henry football game came down to one point.
Last year, the Patriots survived 7-6 and a defensive battle in Ashland. However, this year the Warriors exacted revenge by winning 35-34 in overtime.
The difference was a foot. The foot of sophomore Cullen Bryant, who just eked it above the crossbar to send the home crowd into a frenzy.
“We are getting better,” said Henrico coach Gerald Glasco. “We have been put in some situations because we had some transfers but we have guys who have stepped in and done the job.
“But give Patrick Henry credit they executed and played better than we even expected.
“We chose to be Warriors tonight and I couldn’t be prouder.”
The first quarter gave no indication of what was to come in this first outing of Central District teams. In fact, both teams fumbled the ball once but recovered their own fumble and then there were mistakes and penalties. But in the end, there was no score at the end of the quarter.
However, Henrico who was coming off back-to-back wins, was mounting a drive as the quarter ended and finished it off
on the fourth play of the second quarter a 3-yard shovel pass from quarterback Lawrence Chambers to Tyrelle Ellison for the first score of the game. Bryant added the point-after-attempt for the Warriors 7-0 lead.
Then, Chambers found Ja’Had Carter on a 64-yard hookup for the touchdown, and even though the home team did not convert the PAT, it held a 13-0 lead with 7:11 left in the second quarter.
But Patrick Henry, as it has done all season to come into the game with a 3-0 record, fought back. In fact, anytime Henrico took control the Patriots would find a way to tie the game.
Hunter Harter, a senior two-sport athlete who was playing his first game of the season, scored on a one-yard run and Rian Pecci-Young connected on the PAT and the Patriots cut the deficit to 13-7, which is how the two teams went into the half.
The third quarter saw more penalties, equally on both sides of the ball, before the Patriots tied the game on a Hart 74-yard pass to Devyn Coles at 13-13.
However, three plays later Ellison scored from 13 yards out and Bryant added his second PAT for the 20-13 lead.
Patrick Henry rode the legs of Hart and Coles on the ensuing drive and Hart tied the game once again (20-20) on a two-yard run and Pecci-Young’s extra point.
By now, Henrico had found a winning formula by putting the team in the hands of Ellison, who carried the ball five times, on the next nine-play drive that resulted in Ellison’s second TD of the game and he converted the two-point conversion for the 28-20 lead with 4:30 minutes left to play in the game.
Over the next four minutes, the Patriots drove the field and Alex Sikkar, who had 45 total yards on the night, secured his first touchdown of the game on a 10-yard scamper and Hart added the two-point conversion to send the game into OT.
Patrick Henry won the toss and Hart scored on the first play of the OT from the 10-yard line but was thwarted on the two-point conversion attempt, which opened the door for Henrico.
On the team’s second play, Ellison took the screen pass from Chambers and took it into the end zone thereafter the left-footed Bryant connected for the game winner.
“It’s a game of inches,” Glasco added. “And we were blessed that it went over.”
In the final tally for the Warriors, Ellison finished with a game-high 120 rushing yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns. Plus, he had 46 yards on four receptions and two touchdowns.
“Tyrelle is an outstanding young man and football player,” Glasco said. “He is terrific on-and-off the field and played an outstanding game tonight.”
Chambers, a 5-10, 175-pound senior quarterback, was 16 for 31 for 249 yards and three touchdowns.
Hart, in his first action of the season, was just shy of 100 yards, with 98 yards on 29 carries while fellow quarterback Sikkar chipped in with 32 yards rushing on 10 carries and 13 yards passing. Furthermore, Hart tossed for 132 yards on 3-for-5 passing.
Also, Coles who has played mainly on the defensive side of the ball caught fire in the second half and rushed for 62 yards on 10 carries while senior Terrance Oxendine appeared to be sidelined with an injury. Not only that, he added 84 receiving
yards, including the 74-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter.
For Patrick Henry coach Keith Braxton, the loss stings but he said there was a simple solution.
“Tackle, we just need to tackle better, that was the difference tonight,” Braxton explained.
“At times, we executed well and at other times we did but if we just tackle better we could have gotten the stops that would have allowed us to win the game.”
With the win, Henrico improved to 3-1 on the season while Patrick Henry fell to 3-1. The Warriors are back in action Friday at Highland Springs, a 48-0 winner over Lee-Davis, while the Patriots travel to Atlee.