JAMES CITY — There was some pregame talk that Hopewell, whose cadre of athletes included 6-foot-5 Tennessee recruit Darrell Taylor, could be good enough to give Lafayette its toughest test of the season. Rams players ignored that chatter, heeded the words of their coach, Andy Linn, and rode to a 59-0 win over Hopewell on Friday in the second round of the Group 3A East Region playoffs.
"Coach Linn talked about doing whatever the job was and being physical," said Daquan Jacobs, who, along with fellow defensive end Matt Hummel, harassed Blue Devils quarterback Cameren Hill into an awful night (5-of-16 for 38 yards) passing.
Derrick Harris, who led the Lafayette rushing attack with 153 yards, said, "Coach talked about being physical, working as a team and staying focused."
Mission accomplished. Jacobs blocked one punt and shoved a blocker into Hill to stuff a second punt, which Hummel recovered in the end zone for a touchdown.
The Rams forced four fumbles, recovering two, the second of which Cheyton Pine, who also had an interception, ran 14 yards for a touchdown. With the Hopewell run game going nowhere (31 attempts, 112 yards), Hill tried to pass but could never break the containment of Hummel and Jacobs to create on the run, as he often does.
Hummel had two of the Rams' three sacks, while Pine, D'Andre Thompson, Trey Neville and Liam Walters also continually got to the ball. Harris and Brandon Villanueva-Pernell did a good job in coverage, but they mostly benefited on offense from the strong play of the line.
As they often do, Rams offensive linemen Ian McManus, Coleman Goad, Anthony Thorn, Charlie Woollum, Mitch Barrick and Trey Neville dominated the line of scrimmage. Harris needed just four carries to net his 153 yards, the big gainer an 89-yard TD run on which he burst through a small hole and used his sprinter's speed to outrun the Hopewell defense.
The pass blocking was excellent, too, as Rams quarterback Brendan McGinty completed all five pass attempts for 75 yards and three touchdowns. Villanueva-Pernell had touchdown receptions of 25 and 29 yards, the first coming in acrobatic fashion as he hauled the ball in over the outstretched hands of a defensive back and deftly managed to get a foot down before falling out of bounds.
It was the kind of performance that will have coaches of the Rams' next opponent — the winner of Saturday's Petersburg-Poquoson game — watching video overtime to find a weakness. If they find one, there won't be any use vocalizing it because the Rams aren't listening.
"Other than an early fumble, the kids did everything I asked," Linn said. "They were very physical."
Harris said, "Coach Linn tells us if we work hard and listen, we'll get where we need to go."
That's looking more and more like the state championship game in Lynchburg on Dec. 13.
O'Brien can be reached by phone at 757-247-4963.
LAFAYETTE 59 HOPEWELL 0
Hopewell: 0, 0, 0, 0 -0
Lafayette: 16, 29, 14, 0 - 59
Laf: Douglass 8 run (Villanueva-Pernell pass from McGinty), 3:31
Laf: Hummel recovered blocked punt in end zone (Douglass run), 2:20
Laf: Villanueva-Pernell 29 pass from McGinty (Douglass run), 8:54
Laf: Neville 8 pass from McGinty (Horne kick), 6:57
Laf: Harris 89 run (Horne kick), 3;12
Laf: Pine 14 fumble return (Horne kick), :16
Laf: Douglass 13 run (Horne kick), 10:28
Laf: Villanueva-Pernell 25 pass from McGinty (Horne kick), 4:37
First downs: 6; 18
Rushes-yards: 31-112; 35-336
Passing yards: 38; 75
Comp-Att-Int: 5-16-1; 5-6-0
Penalties-yards: 11-101; 4-24
Punts-avg: 4-18.3; 0-0
Fumbles-lost: 4-2; 1-1