APPOMATTOX — Glenvar’s first three plays in its second possession went for first downs. The Highlanders were marching — quickly — up the field, gaining 34 yards in a matter of seconds.
In an instant, though, the passing blitzkrieg, courtesy of sophomore quarterback Aiden Wolk, came to an end. Jordan Scott read Wolk’s fourth pass of the day the entire way, stepped in front, picked off the bullet and sprinted the other way.
For the first time — but far from the last — Appomattox’s defense made a play when it counted, and the Raiders, who held on to a cushion from three early scores, played strong the rest of the way Friday night at Bragg Stadium to hand the Highlanders a loss in the Region 2C playoffs for the third straight year, 21-0.
“They made more plays than we did in crucial times. Credit to them,” Glenvar coach Kevin Clifford said.
On many nights, Wolk and the Glenvar offense could ride their passing game to a win. Wolk completed 22 of 32 passes, finding Nick Sebolt (132 yards receiving) 14 times, for 211 yards. Among the 10 incompletions, though, were four interceptions that slammed the brakes on any momentum the Highlanders (7-5) built.
Appomattox (10-2) came up with three of those picks in the first half to preserve leads of 14-0 and 21-0. Then Scott, a junior transfer from Brookville playing in his first playoffs and his first varsity season, leaped up and snared another in the fourth quarter, this one in the end zone with less than five minutes to go.
“I was kind of nervous,” he said of playing in the win-or-go-home game.
Tez Booker and Keyshawn Baker pulled down the other two picks.
As if an invisible barrier existed just outside the red zone, Glenvar was in nearly the same position on the field for all four of those miscues — getting to the Appomattox 30-yard line three times. Then in the fourth quarter, the Highlanders finally made inside the 30, to the Appomattox 29, before throwing the interception on second-and-9.
“I feel like those interceptions came at a good time, when we really needed it,” Appomattox senior running back Cristian Ferguson said.
As was the case on the first interception, Glenvar had gained steam quickly on its third and fourth drives before they ended. The Highlanders picked up four first downs on each of those possessions, gaining 58 yards on the first of the two drives and 45 yards on the second before the interceptions.
“If somebody doesn’t make a play [for us],” Appomattox coach Doug Smith said, “they just keep moving it. ... I think we may have been playing off a little too much, and as they pushed us down into our field, we tightened up a little bit.”
The Raiders, who also forced two three-and-outs and a turnover on downs, won the turnover battle 5-1 after also recovering a Glenvar fumble. ACHS lost a fumble, too, but it didn’t prove costly.
“When you lose the turnover battle -1, not great odds to win the football game,” said Colby Street who had a 13-yard reception and a team-high 14 yards on three carries for Glenvar. The Highlanders picked up 235 yards of total offense, but only 24 on the ground.
Appomattox gained almost all of its 356 yards through its ground game (308 yards on 47 carries), by which it scored all three of its touchdowns.
Ferguson, who finished with 175 yards on 17 carries, broke into the scoring column first with a 42-yard touchdown run less than three minutes into the game.
“I didn’t anticipate that,” Clifford said of Appomattox’s first drive, which covered 65 yards in 2 minutes, 38 seconds. “I knew they would run the ball hard, but I thought we would defend that better.”
Quarterback Tre Lawing had touchdown runs of 6 and 20 yards in the first and second quarters and finished with 31 yards on 11 carries. He added 48 yards through the air on 4-of-9 passing.
“I think it’s very important to get those first scores,” Smith said. “I think anybody that we play, we have to be like that. We have to come out of the gate like a racehorse.”
Appomattox moves on to the region championship game for the fifth straight year. The Raiders take on third-seeded Gretna (9-3) in a rematch of a regular-season Dogwood District battle, which Appomattox won 21-7.
The Raiders ended Glenvar’s season in the region semifinals for the second straight year. In 2017, the Highlanders fell in a region championship matchup with Appomattox, which went on to win its second of three straight state titles that season.
Emily Brown covers the Hillcats, ODAC and high school sports for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5529.