It was a good Friday night for the guys in maroon.
Host Tates Creek, wearing maroon jerseys and pants for the first time (ever?), put together a strong second half and rallied past Lafayette 35-28 in the Roy Walton Bowl.
The victory gave the Commodores the regular-season district title and earned them a home playoff game in two weeks.
"I got a little emotional," Tates Creek Coach Mike Harmon said. "Not only because it was the Roy Walton Bowl. We hadn't won the district in so long ... I think it's been 10 years. And now we get another game at home and that's great for our players."
It looked like it might be a long, cold night for the Commodores when they played a listless first half and trailed 14-7.
"We just didn't come out with any fire," said junior defensive back Max Sweet. "We had a nice long talk at halftime about getting that fire."
Sure enough, Tates Creek scorched the Generals the rest of the night.
After gaining only 81 yards in the first half, the Commodores had 285 in the second. Their defense also answered the bell. Lafayette had only 69 yards in the second half after getting 248 in the first.
"We just played with more energy and emotion," Harmon said. "The only adjustment was effort and intensity."
And some trickery.
The Commodores opened the second half with Jake Ryan perfectly executing an on-side kick that he recovered himself.
Tates Creek capitalized with a 49-yard drive. Sophomore running back Jaren Shelby, taking the snap out of the wildcat formation, scored on a seven-yard run to tie it. (Shelby also scored out of the wildcat on a two-yard run in the first half).
The next time the Commodores got the ball, Graham Gordon threw a 33-yard TD pass to R.J. Taylor to give them a 21-14 lead.
Harmon surprised Lafayette by calling for another on-side kick, and Sweet recovered it this time.
Tates Creek turned it into gold again. Gordon capped a short drive with a two-yard score to make it 28-14.
"We've always been real aggressive in the kicking game," Harmon said, explaining why his team tried five on-side kicks. "It always gives us a real spark when it works.
"But the real bottom line was, we didn't want to kick it to Kylan Nelson."
Tates Creek made that mistake on its next kickoff, trying a pooch boot that Nelson ran back 80 yards for a TD to pull Lafayette to within 28-21 late in the third quarter.
The Commodores didn't sweat it, though.
Less than a minute later, Gordon fired a 66-yard TD strike to Taylor to give Tates Creek a two-TD lead again.
Taylor had four catches for 114 yards and two TDs, and he also led the defense with six tackles. Sweet had six tackles and Grimes had five.
Grimes also rushed for 86 yards.
Lafayette got up a late TD on Walker Wood's seven-yard pass to Dontavion "Lucky" Jackson to make it 35-28. The Generals tried an on-side kick, but Taylor recovered it to seal the victory.
"It's an ureal feeling to win the district," Taylor said, "and to finally beat Lafayette."
This was the second time in the last nine years Tates Creek beat the Generals.
Lafayette's bright spots included freshman quarterback Walker Wood, who threw for 206 yards. Malik Robinson ran for 50 yards and a score, and Jackson had six catches for 141 yards and a TD.
"Get ready for the playoffs is all we can do," Generals Coach Eric Shaw said.
Tates Creek 35, Lafayette 28
Lafayette 7 7 7 7—28
Tates Creek 0 7 21 7—35
L—Malik Robinson 13 run (William Wester kick). TC—Jaren Shelby 2 run (Jake Ryan kick). L—Michael Serafini 20 pass from Walker Wood (Wester kick). TC—Shelby 7 run (Ryan kick). TC—R.J. Taylor 33 pass from Graham Gordon (Ryan kick). TC—Gordon 2 run (Ryan kick). L—Kylan Nelson 80 kickoff return (Wester kick). TC—Taylor 66 pass from Gordon (Ryan kick). L—Dontavion Jackson 7 pass from Wood (Wester kick).
Records: Lafayette 3-7; Tates Creek 6-4
Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com.