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York brings Dragons’ season to end

South Boston News
SoVaNow.com / November 15, 2017


On a blustery and cold night in Yorktown, the Park View Dragons started strong but saw their season slip away in the second half as the host York Falcons bolted to a 40-8 win the first round of the Class 3 Region A playoffs. With the loss, the Dragons finished the 2017 season with a record of 7-4.

“It [the season] was good, we had a winning record, we’re just disappointed we couldn’t get out of the first round,” said a downcast Kelvin Hutcheson, Park View head coach, afterwards. The #6 seed Dragons came into the contest wary of third-seeded York’s power running formation, and the Falcons would rely more and more on the ground game as the night wore on.

“We didn’t get that done,” said Hutcheson of stopping the run. “We didn’t coach it right, maybe, or have the right scheme. Or maybe they’re just that much better than us.”

On a night when both teams would have some trouble handling the ball due to the frigid temperatures, the Dragons claimed the game’s first turnover. On the opening kickoff, the boot by Park View kicker Brandon Vaughan took an awkward bounce near the 20 yard line and the Falcon kick returner mishandled it for a fumble, although he was able to recover the ball before the Dragons hammered him for little gain. After picking up one first down on running plays, York then threw on second-and-10 and the pass sailed over the head of the receiver into waiting arms of a perfectly positioned T.J. House for Park View.

House took the pick and darted upfield, gaining about eight yards when he was hit hard by a York defender. The ball squirted out but Park View was able to recover, setting up the Dragons’ first offensive possession.

In a sign of things to come, Park View couldn’t get anything going against a stout Falcons defense and turned the ball back over to York on downs at the PV 38 yard line.

This time, the Falcons stuck with their strong running game that would serve them well throughout the game. York ball carrier John Cassidy was repeatedly able to pick up nice chunks of yardage. York marched smartly down the field and punched the ball in for the TD, making the score 6-0 with 3:45 left in the first quarter after the two-point conversion came up short.

The Dragons started the next drive in their own end of the field and were able to mount a pretty impressive drive of their own, capped by a 30-yard TD run by Ra’Sean Coates. The two-point conversion was successful and the Dragons took their only lead of the game, 8-6.

The teams traded punches through most of the half, with neither team gaining a real advantage until the Falcons were able to score their second TD on a sustained drive with 1:21 left before halftime. The successful two-point conversion gave York a 14-8 lead at the break.

On the kickoff to start the second half, York executed a tricky play with the kick popping high into the air and coming down in an open area in front of the Park View kick returners. The York special teams unit swarmed downfield and was first to fall on the ball to claim possession. The Falcons took up where they left off in the first half with a strong running game, pounding the PV defense and converting on a fourth-and-5 play with a long run for first and 10 at the Falcon 28.

Soon enough, the Falcons again faced a fourth down situation with four yards to go for a first down at the PV 19, and were just able to convert for first and 10 at the 15. On the next play, York’s quarterback dropped back to pass and T.J. House snagged his second interception of the night at the York 5. Park View had a first and 10 and a chance to dig out from a hole.

But the Dragon offense stalled, going three and out and forcing punter Brandon Vaughn to kick the ball from his own goal line. After nearly seeing the punt blocked, the PV special teams unit dropped the Falcon returner at the York 48 yard line. York’s running game, behind a dominating offensive line, continued to make good gains and a York pass completion for decent yardage brought the ball down to the PV 34.

The Falcons continued to hammer away with the running attack, punching in for another TD and a 20-8 lead with 1:41 left in the third after the conversion was no good.

After the kickoff the Dragons started their next drive from their own 32. QB Joshua Jones dropped back for a pass and found a receiver in stride who broke free for a long pickup down to the Falcons 17. On the next play, PV running back German Neville took the handoff around the right end where he was met by a flock of Falcons. After making two defenders miss with some nifty moves, Neville was gang tackled and lost his grip on the ball.

The resulting fumble was recovered by the Falcons, a huge disappointment for the Dragons as they lost all the momentum they had gained.

At this point it seemed the wheels fell off for the Park View squad. York executed a nearly-flawless drive that ate up a lot of time off the clock. The Falcons scored the TD by executing a perfectly-timed jump pass on fourth and goal from the 7. The two-point conversion attempt fell short but the score at this point was 26-8 with 7:04 left in the fourth quarter. York went on to score two more times and kicked the PATs after each TD for a final score of 40-8 to send the Dragons home empty-handed.

“They executed, they played a better game than us,” said Hutcheson of the playoff contest. Asked if the weather was a factor in the turnovers, Hutcheson said, “I don’t think so, we fumbled a couple of times when the ball should have been in the right hands. We practiced in the cold and rain all week and we didn’t put the ball on the ground.”

Pointing to the key second half fumble as Park View was down 20-8 but threatening to score after a long pass play, Hutcheson observed that the Dragons “put the ball on the ground in their red zone and when you do that, when you can’t stop the run, you lose ball games.” The coach faulted himself and the staff for not having the team correctly prepared for the York power running game: “We didn’t get it done as coaches, myself included and we’ll take the blame for that.”

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