APPOMATTOX — Glenvar coach Kevin Clifford knew going into Friday’s Region 2C championship game what kind of playmakers fill out the Appomattox roster. Skill players, defensive standouts and returners all can wreak havoc.
Clifford has seen it on tape, and, from the sideline, he’s experienced the talent those players have brought to game day. He’s come to appreciate the Raiders’ abilities each of the last three seasons — three years in which the Raiders were responsible for ending the Highlanders’ campaigns — so he knew what to expect for Round 4 on Friday at Bragg Stadium.
An impressive passing game from quarterback Aiden Wolk and receivers Keith Crouch, Jackson Swanson and Nicholas Swanson, though, wasn’t enough to counteract the skills Appomattox once again brought to the postseason tilt.
The Raiders’ special teams units provided momentum-building scores, and the offense — led by sophomore running back Jonathan Pennix — had the responses to Glenvar’s pass-heavy game plan to pull off a fourth straight victory in the familiar Region 2C playoffs matchup.
“It definitely is a hump,” Clifford said of the challenge Appomattox has offered his team.
The Raiders, with a 48-21 triumph, punched their ticket for the Class 2 state semifinals.
The region title and another trip to the state tourney (where the Raiders hope to pick up a second straight trophy and fifth in six years), “That’s been the plan,” Appomattox senior running back Keyshawn Baker said.
Baker and Pennix were sparkplugs for Appomattox (7-0), with Pennix scoring the game’s opening touchdown on a blocked punt he scooped up and returned 25 yards for a touchdown.
“We told the kids it’s been several weeks since we’ve had a blocked punt. Early in the season we were getting at least one every week, so we told them, ‘Hey, we’ve gotta go get one,’” Appomattox interim coach Stephen Castello said.
The play came less than three minutes in, at the end of Glenvar’s first possession. The Highlanders immediately were on their heels and eventually went down 20-0 in the first quarter. They twice cut the lead to two scores, but couldn’t get any closer.
Baker was responsible for Appomattox’s second special teams score of the night on a 75-yard kickoff return in the second quarter.
“I think I’m gonna score before every play,” he said when asked what his thoughts were as he sprinted to the end zone. “That’s the mindset — you’ve got to [have that].”
The touchdown answered Glenvar’s first score of the night, a 19-yard pass from Wolk to Woodson that cut the lead to 20-7. Baker’s response turned the momentum back in favor of the home team.
“I think if we take away the two special teams errors in the first half, it’s probably a different game,” Clifford said. “But the credit belongs to them, because they made the plays at the end of the day.”
Glenvar (5-3) scored twice more after that, including on an 8-yard pass from Wolk (325 yards on 26-of-46 passing with two interceptions) to Swanson (139 yards receiving). The TD capped a 12-play, 87-yard drive with less than 30 seconds left before halftime.
“It’s a good team,” Pennix said of Glenvar. “They came to play today. They made us push, because midway through the game they stopped us from scoring and they were scoring. They really pushed us to work hard.”
Jordan Scott (63 yards receiving) and JaQuan Walker (55 yards rushing) each had TDs for the Raiders. And Pennix finished the night with four scores.
Lawing and Scott connected on a 14-yard score, Walker rushed 33 yards for the night’s second score, and Pennix recorded the game’s first two and last two TDs.
“This is definitely my biggest game,” said Pennix, who had 108 yards on seven carries and also pulled down an interception.
Tez Booker recorded the game’s other pick, which ultimately secured the win in the fourth quarter.
The Raiders will travel to take on Union in the Class 2 state semifinals April 24 (game time has not yet been announced). Union beat Central-Wise 14-13 for the Region 2D title.
Glenvar 0 14 0 7 — 21
Appomattox 20 7 7 14 — 48
A — Jonathan Pennix 25 blocked punt return (kick failed)
A — Pennix 45 run (Tye Robertson kick)
A — JaQuan Walker 33 run (Robertson Kick)
G — Nicholas Woodson 19 pass from Aiden Wolk (Wolk kick)
A — Keyshawn Baker 75 kickoff return (Robertson kick)
G — Jackson Swanson 8 pass from Wolk (Wolk kick)
A — Jordan Scott 14 pass from Tre Lawing (Robertson kick)
G — Kyle Hanks 2 run (Wolk kick)
A — Pennix 13 run (Robertson kick)
A — Pennix 19 run (Robertson kick)
First Downs 18 13
Rushes-Yards 20-20 38-229
Passing Yards 315 85
Passing 26-46-2 6-8-0
Total Offense 335 314
Penalties-Yards 6-32 7-45
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 1-0
RUSHING — G: Hanks 12-20, Wolk 6-3, De’Shaun Johnson 2-(minus-3). A: Baker 9-29, Lawing 13-37, Pennix 7-108, Walker 9-55.
PASSING — G: Wolk 26-46-2 (315). A: Lawing 6-8-0 (85).
RECEIVING — G: Hanks 1-17, Woodson 2-52, Swanson 11-139, Keith Couch 8-71, Jebediah Secrist 1-10, Colvin Delano 3-26. A: Caleb Shaw 1-11, Tez Booker 1-10, Scott 3-63, Ervin Davis 1-1.
Records: Glenvar 5-3. Appomattox 7-0.
Next: Appomattox travels to take on Region 2D champion Union on April 24 (time TBA).