The Lions have heard enough of what the Foxes say in 2021.
After ending Lousia County’s spring season by a 31-15 margin in a Region B semifinal, King George rolled into The Jungle for their first full game of the fall. The Foxes amassed 423 yards of total offense, converted both Louisa turnovers into touchdowns, and put the clamps on the Lions’ ground attack en route to a 33-15 win.
“They were excited to get to play, and that showed,” said King George coach Vern Lunsford, whose squad had their opener suspended due to lightning and then spent a week in COVID quarantine. “We’ve got some very talented players that make my job easy. They’ve been through a lot these last couple weeks, and they’ve been nothing but positive.”
The outcome snapped a 38-game regular-season winning streak for the Lions and marked their first regular-season defeat in The Jungle since October 2015.
“The target on our back is huge: people want to beat us,” said Louisa coach Will Patrick. “Now let’s not get it twisted; we played a very, very talented King George team. [Their offense] didn’t turn the ball over. I thought we flew around and played hard, but we’ve got to make plays when we have a chance.”
Louisa had a prime chance right out of the gate after Zachary Slaughter executed a perfect squib kick that deflected off a King George upman and was recovered by the Lions. However, the offense could not move the chains. It was the first of five straight Louisa possessions that ended without a first down.
“The opening kickoff we got back, had some momentum, but we just couldn’t get anything established on the ground,” said Patrick, as Louisa managed just 21 yards rushing in the first half. “Their defense flies around. They’ve got a lot of athletes that can run and make tackles, and we’ve got to sustain blocks better.”
The first quarter ended with both teams scoreless, but King George had tilted field position in its favor as the Foxes were able to pick up some first downs in their series. After Louisa quarterback Landon Wilson fumbled on a keeper, the Foxes recovered to set up their offense at the LC35. Six plays later, junior quarterback Zach Ferguson connected with Mekhai White for a 26-yard touchdown on the first snap of the second quarter.
“We just saw a one-on-one [coverage] that we usually win,” White said. “We’ve got to take advantage of the one-on-ones, and tonight we did.”
It was the start of a big night for White and teammate Chanz Wiggins, also a 6’4” sophomore.
“You can’t coach 6’4” and they had two of ‘em, so we got beat over the top a few times tonight and that really hurt us,” Patrick said.
After a quick Louisa three-and-out and shanked punt, King George was right back out in Lions’ territory. Ferguson capped a nine-play drive with a one-yard plunge to make it 13-0.
Late in the half, the Lions’ defense grabbed some momentum by forcing a turnover on downs after the Foxes had moved inside the 30. The offense finally picked up a first down when Wilson hit Jordan Smith for a 44 yard catch-and-run. After a Wilson draw, sack, and spike left only a second on the clock, Louisa got on the board with a 35-yard field goal from Caden Lundy.
Things tightened even further after Louisa received the third-quarter kickoff. First, facing fourth-and-3 at the Lions’ own 28 yardline, Wilson pushed ahead for a gain of six. On the next play, Smith finally broke free on a handoff and raced 66 yards for a touchdown. With 9:25 left in the third, it was a 13-9 ballgame.
The Foxes had an answer: a 12-play, 67-yard drive that nearly ended on downs at the Louisa 11 but for a defensive pass interference penalty that gave Ferguson and Wiggins another try. The pair connected for a 6-yard touchdown. After a Lousia four-and-out, Ferguson and White effectively put the game out of reach with a 25-yard touchdown that made it 26-9 with 1:09 left in the third.
“We knew they were going to come back and compete hard,” said White, who led KG with six catches for 125 yards. “We just had to stay together and battle.”
In the fourth, KG senior Gabe Aley raced 66 yards for a touchdown one play after Xavien Thompson intercepted Wilson. Louisa rounded out the scoring with senior Troy Fischer emerging from a crowded backfield for a 6-yard touchdown two plays after he rumbled for a pickup of 46 out of the same formation.
Smith led the Lions with 114 total yards (58 rushing, 56 receiving). Wilson added 39 on the ground and completed 4-of-14 through the air for just 55 yards.
“Missing a couple of receivers tonight also hurt us, but the only thing we can do is get better,” Patrick said.
For King George (1-0), Ferguson completed 13-of-22 for 206 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. After White, Wiggins made five receptions for 58 yards. Aley led the rushing attack with 147 yards on 12 carries.
Louisa (2-1) at least does not have to worry about drawing the Foxes in their regional playoff bracket, having shifted to Region D for the new two-year cycle. The Lions will look to start another Jungle win streak next Friday as they host Fluvanna (1-2) to open Jefferson District play.