Thirty years ago, when the N.C. State basketball team made its miracle run to a National Championship, their coach, the late Jim Valvano, coined the term “survive and advance.” It didn’t matter about style points, or even how well you played – it only mattered that you won so you could play again.
This mantra perfectly applied to Atlee’s performance in their 23-6 win over Meadowbrook in Friday’s Class 5A South Central Zone quarterfinal. There were mistakes and missed opportunities galore. But key second half points, and an undisciplined performance by the Monarchs, allowed the Raiders, now 10-1, to survive and advance.
The Raiders had 227 yards of total offense. Though they began drives in Meadowbrook territory a half-dozen times, they mustered their second-worst point output in a victory this season (14 versus Hanover on Oct. 4).
“All I know is in the box scores it says win, loss or tie,” Atlee head coach Roscoe Johnson said. “We were blessed to be able to get the win.”
If the Raiders make a deep run in the playoffs, this victory may end up being a blessing in disguise. The Monarch defense found ways to get to quarterback Reid McCoy, sacking him five times. They held the running tandem of Lamont Stubbs and Loumond Dandridge to 115 yards total rushing.
So it was up to Atlee’s defense to drive the train to victory station, and that they did. They gave up 179 total yards, never allowed Meadowbrook’s 1,200-yard rusher Justin Miller to get on track, and came up with timely turnovers.
The first was on a Monarch fumble with 2:13 left in the first quarter. One play later, McCoy found Daniel Glymph down the sideline for a 39-yard touchdown reception.
The teams proceeded to trade interceptions, the Monarchs grabbing a ball in the air knocked away from Dandridge when he was hit hard as the ball arrived on a swing pass. Plays later, Monarchs wideout Terrelle Whitaker lined up at tailback, took the handoff and raced 58 yards down the right sideline untouched for what would be Meadowbrook’s only score. The missed extra point left the Raiders in the lead at 7-6, which would also be the intermission score.
Two of Meadowbrook’s startling 15 penalties came on back-to-back plays on Atlee’s first possession in the third quarter, keeping their drive alive. The Raiders took those gifts and scored on a 1-yard run by McCoy.
As the Monarchs’ offensive frustrations continued, Atlee found the end zone a final time on a 4-yard Lamont Stubbs run. A blocked PAT made it 20-6 at the end of the third quarter.
Kicker Ryan Molin, who also missed a 37-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter, nailed one from 30 yards out with nine seconds left to finish the scoring.
Johnson credited the Monarchs’ coaches and players for performing against his team in ways they hadn’t seen before.
“Meadowbrook did an excellent job game-planning against us,” Johnson noted. “They gave us fits, so at halftime we went in, regrouped, and toughed it out.”
Their ability to sack McCoy left an indelible impression on Johnson as well, as did a statistic from the critical third quarter.
“[Meadowbrook] only snapped the ball four times in the quarter. We held the ball about the entire third quarter running the football behind that big offensive line, something we’ve done well. But I’ve never seen Reid that much on the ground, not even in practice,” Johnson said.
Atlee now prepares for a rematch with the one team that holds a victory against them this season, Douglas Freeman. The Rebels survived a triple overtime thriller, 48-47, over Manchester, in their first round game. It will be two 10-1 teams facing each other, this time at Raider Nation. Freeman’s 24-14 win Sept. 20 over the Raiders came after a bye week in the West End of Henrico.
The Raiders know it will take a much better performance in front of the home crowd this Friday to survive and advance once again.
NOTE: The Douglas Freeman at Atlee game will be heard live Friday at 6:30 p.m. on WHAN, 102.9 FM and 1430 AM, and online at HanoverCountySports.net.
In Class 4A South Regional action, the playoff experience of the Hanover Hawks paid off in droves, combined with a huge freshman performance, as the 11th-seeded Hawks knocked off sixth-seed Churchland Friday night in Portsmouth, leading wire-to-wire for a 28-13 win.
Clayton Cheatham, younger brother of former Hanover star Deane Cheatham, now playing at James Madison, rushed for 190 yards, including a short touchdown run in the second quarter. Brennan Gary and Jalen Elliott added touchdown runs as the Hawks raced out to a 21-0 lead halfway through the second quarter and never looked back, ending the Truckers’ season at 8-3. Christian Unger had both a touchdown reception and a key interception late in the third quarter during the Churchland comeback attempt.
Hanover (6-5) makes another trip to Tidewater for 4A South Quarterfinal action against a team they’ve scrimmaged each of the last two seasons, defending State Division 5 Champion Lake Taylor (9-2). The Titans are located in Norfolk. Game time will be 7:30 p.m.