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After slow start to season, Bluestone bounces back with 46-28 triumph over Randolph-Henry

South Boston News
Bluestone’s Kwhali Hester (9) and teammates prepare to take down the R-H runner. (Mike Moseley photo) / September 13, 2017

The Bluestone varsity football team took on the Randolph-Henry Statesmen on Friday night to begin the James River District regular season campaign and won convincingly, 46-28.

Bluestone picked up its first win of the season after starting 0-2 with losses to Fluvanna and Park View. Bluestone is now 1-2, 1-0 JRD.

Bluestone had 403 yards of offense on Friday night, but only 58 yards of that was on the ground.

Chris Gregory led the offense with four catches and four TDs, totaling 165 yards. Gregory had TD catches of 29, 37, 57 and 42 yards. Baron quarterback Dale Sturdifen Jr. also had a sensational game, throwing for 345 yards and running for 36.

Bluestone opened the game by holding R-H scoreless on their first possession. The Barons were forced to punt on their first series but they pinned the Statesmen deep in their own territory.

The Bluestone defense was able to secure a safety for a 2-0 lead. The subsequent quick kick resulted in a great return for Bluestone, placing them in R-H territory.

The drive resulted in the first of Gregory’s TDs on the night. The PAT by Trei Venable was no good, making the score 8-0 with 5:02 left in the first quarter.

As the game entered the second quarter, R-H pickedup a touchdown behind the running of Tyrie Tydings.

R-H attempted the onside kick which Bluestone recovered at midfield. It wasn’t long before Gregory was hauling in another pass for a TD and a 14-6 Barons’ lead.

On their next possession the Statesmen also scored. A halfback pass from Tydings led to the score and the 14-12 score, which stood until halftime.

Bluestone coach Jessie Chropk said Bluestone is looking to up the ante in the first half of its games. Chropka noted that through three games this season, the Barons have scored 84 points. Only 18 points have come in the first half.

“If we could harness the enthusiasm, intensity, and the passion that we play with in the second half of football games, we will be extremely dangerous and hard to beat for four quarters,” Chropka said.

Bluestone received the kickoff to open the third and returned the ball to their 43. Roger Dailey, who totaled 125 yards on the night, had a nice catch for an 18-yard gain. Seconds later, Cedric Taylor was pulling in a 38-yard TD pass.

Bluestone went for the PAT and the kick was good for the 21-12 score, with 11:35 left in the third.

R-H went a drive that began with 11:35 in the third. The Statesmen capped off the drive at the 5:52 mark with a Tydings’ touchdown. R-H made good on the two-point conversion and closed to within a point at 21-20.

Bluestone responded by returning the kickoff back to their own 43. On first down with a little over 5:40 remaining in the third, Sturdifen found Gregory flying down the sideline for a 57-yard TD reception.

The Statesmen punted to end their next drive. Bluestone soon faced third and seven and Dailey made a catch for the 81-yard touchdown and the 33-20 lead.

In the fourth quarter Bluestone scored two additional touchdowns. Gregory capped of his night with a 42-yard TD reception and Neil Clayton Jr. ran for a five-yard TD, with 2:29 left in the game.

R-H’s Tydings scored the Statesmen’s final TD and the two-point conversion was good for the 46-28 final.

Chropka said he was pleased to see that both the offense and defense showed improvements in the game.

The coach said the enthusiasm on offense in the second half led to five touchdowns, four through the air and one on the ground. Sturdifen finished the game with 13 for 20 passing completions for 345 yards and six touchdowns.

Gregory had four catches for 165 yards and four touchdowns. Dailey had four catches for 125 yards and one touchdown, and aylor helped with three catches for 48 yards and one touchdown.

Chropka said the Baron running game is still struggling to be as dangerous, but there were some bright spots including the communication and unison effort by the front five. Marcellis Wesley got his first start at right tackle Friday night and his performance was improved — which Chropka attributed to the leadership of Javonte Roberts, Shawn Jones and Rashawn Peterson, and Jailyn Crowder.

The defensive unit was “tough, disciplined, and extremely athletic,” said Chropka.

Through three games the Barons defense has forced 14 turnovers and scored eight points. The bad news is that Bluestone continues to give up over 200 yards rushing per game.

“Granted, we have faced three predominantly running offenses that rely heavily on big and powerful running backs, but after four quarters of the downhill, in your face, powerful offenses, our defenders are showing signs of the physical punishment,” Chropka said.

“For the third straight game this season senior linebacker Cameron Tucker led the team with tackles but barely beat out seniors Kwhali Hester and Walter Evans as well as freshman D’Andre Alexander. Senior Roger Dailey added another interception to his stats and senior Kareem Mason recovered another fumble. It was a physical game for the defense and although Randolph Henry racked up 267 yards rushing, the defense fought for four quarters, forced turnovers, and gave the team the mental spark that led to such a successful night.”

Bluestone takes to the road this Friday for a 7 p.m. matchup with Prince Edward. PE is 3-0 this season and opened their JRD season with a 48-19 win over Cumberland last week.

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