Colonials Beat Writer Michael Anderson
Oct 27, 2021
PETERSBURG, VA - There comes a time in every athlete’s life on the field when he is tested. When teammate mistakes make one question his teammate’s commitment level; when he questions his own commitment level and wonders if everything he goes through and has gone through is worth the “sudden change” that happens in every game. A fumble here. A missed tackle there. Sudden changes that can, and often do, determine the outcomes of games.
For the second week in a row the Williamsburg Colonials players experienced such changes.
Against the Red Devils in a much-anticipated re-match of last spring’s conference championship game, the Colonials’ game plan, again, didn’t go as planned. Penalties, bad snaps, and center-quarterback exchanges took away from what was otherwise a very impressive performance on both sides of the ball.
The Colonials scored on a run by Tynes with 23 seconds left, and Isaiah Smith intercepted a last-ditch hail Mary attempt by the Red Devils in the end zone to secure the win. But then came the game this past weekend against the Virginia Starz.
After the defense forced a 3 and out on the Starz first drive, the Colonials fumbled the handoff, the Starz recovered and returned it for a touchdown, but the two-point conversion was no good. This would be a sign of things to come as the Colonials offense started playing turnover roulette: on which play would they turn the ball over?
On the second series, The Colonials had 3rd and short for a first down and they chose to pass the ball instead of running it, knowing that they have the best 1-2 running back punch in the league in Tynes and Garner. Taylor continued his streak of telegraphing his throws and ignoring the short to intermediate routes by attempting to go deep to Bauer on a low percentage fly route. He underthrew the ball and the Starz promptly intercepted the pass for the second turnover in two possessions.
After the defense held the Starz to yet another 3-out, the Colonials offense did what it was designed to do: pound the ball with the run game.
After Garner took the sweep for a first down run, Tynes showed why he is the premier back in the league as he powered, weaved, and bobbed his way for 34 yards down to Starz 3 for a first and goal. Tynes again got the call, going off right tackle untouched for a Colonials score. Josh Soskie hit the extra point, putting the Colonials up 7-6 midway through the 1st quarter.
The defense, which my be the best in the league, shut the Starz down again for their third three and out of the half. The ensuing punt gave the Colonials good field position at their own 37. But on the first play in that series, Garner coughed the ball up for a second time in the half. However, the ball rolled out of bounds giving the Colonials a reprieve on what was presumably a turnover.
The Colonials put together a nice drive after that, hitting Walker for a first down on a slant and Tynes pounding the ball on successive runs down to the Starz 36. After a loss of three on first down, Taylor put the ball on the ground for the third Colonials turnover in the half, giving the Starz great field position on their own 44. However, the defense once again held the Starz, this time delivering a 4 and out, giving the Colonials great field position on the Starz 48-yard line.
Garner goes for four, Tynes tumbles for two, and then for one. The Colonials go for it on 4th and three, and Taylor’s quarterback sneak yields a first down. A quick pass to Boatwright gains 8. But a quick handoff to Garner is blown up in the backfield and loses 2, making it 2nd and 4. No gain on 2nd down. On 3rd and four, the Colonials forgo the run yet again, and Taylor promptly throws a pick six returned for 79 yards. The defense stops the two-point conversion, making it 12-7, Starz.
The second half started much the same way it was when the Colonials played the Red Devils: a high snap on the first play from scrimmage over the head of quarterback Taylor that resulted in a loss of 26 yards. On second down Garner took a toss sweep down the left sideline for a gain of 40. But there were offsetting penalties that brought the ball back to replay second down. A gain of 6 by Garner on 2nd down left it 3rd and 30. The Colonials played it safe, ran the ball on 3rd down for a small gain, then attempted to punt it away for the first time in the game. But another high snap, this time to the punter, ended in a blocked punt, giving the Starz a first and 10 from the Colonials 25.
After the Starz gained 8 yards the first two downs, they ran a quarterback keeper to the left on third down. What seemed to be a nice hole for a nice gain closed quickly with the Colonials stripping the ball away and recovering the fumble. But on the second play after the recovery, the Colonials gave the ball right back to the Starz as Taylor attempted to toss it to Garner on a sweep, but tossed it behind him, giving the Starz first and goal after the recovery.
The defense came through for the Colonials yet again as they swarmed the Starz QB on 3rd and goal from the 12, sacking him all the way back to the 27 for a huge 15-yard loss. The Starz went for it on 4th down vs. trying a field goal and paid for that decision as the Colonials defense once again forced the QB out of the pocket and stopped him for a short gain. After the play there were off-setting penalties that gave the Colonials the ball on their own 25. Yet they go three and out, punting the ball away to start the 4th quarter.
On their first true possession of the 4th quarter the Colonials presumably go three and out, punting the ball away for the 2nd time in the half. But a Starz penalty gave the Colonials a reprieve as the penalty resulted in an automatic first down for the Colonials on their own 50-yard line. But Taylor continued his gift-giving ways when he attempted a swing pass to Garner that was a lateral. Garner didn’t go for the ball, but the Starz did and returned it 40 yards for another defensive touchdown; the two-point conversion was good making the score 20-7 Starz.
On the Colonials next possession, Linwood Walker replaced Taylor at quarterback in hopes that Walker’s play would somehow spark the offenses into action. He didn’t disappoint, driving them past midfield. During a pass on 2nd down, the Starz flushed Walker out of the pocket, and he took the ball to the house on a nice 43-yard run. However, Bauer did his best WWE impersonation by pinning a Starz defender to the ground, drawing a penalty, nullifying the touchdown. Then came the 2-minute warning. And if you follow the Colonials, you know weird things happen within 2 minutes.
On the first play after the 2-minute warning, Walker finds Hill in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. The 2-point conversion appeared to be good but was nullified by a holding penalty. On the ensuing kick-off, the Starz recovered the on-side kick giving them excellent field position on the Colonials 42 with just a little over a minute to play.
One would think that all the Starz had to do was to sit on the ball and run out the clock. But they came out in their regular formation and promptly get a delay of game penalty, backing them up to the Colonials 47. They followed that up with a holding penalty on first down, backing them up another 10 yards into their own territory.
With 1:36 left in the game, on 2nd and 25, the Starz, again, chose to go into their regular formation. The running back fumbled the exchange with the quarterback. Tynes recovered the fumble for the Colonials and took it to the house for a 43-yard touchdown, making the score 20-19 with under a minute to play. An offside penalty against the Starz during the two-point conversion attempt gave the Colonials the ball on the 1. Tynes lined up at quarterback and with help from Boatwright appeared to make the conversion. But he came up short and the play was again nullified by a Starz penalty, giving the Colonials a 3rd attempt at the two-point conversion. This time, Tynes would not be denied as the big push by the Colonials forced him over the plain, giving them the lead 21-20 with 1:16 to play.
The Starz took advantage of a couple of Colonials penalties, driving the ball all the way down to the Colonials 25. But the stout Colonials defense delivered one final stand, stopping the Starz QB on successive plays to secure the victory.