Although it wasn’t in the fashion they’re used to, Stonewall Jackson beat Battlefield on Friday night in front of their hometown crowd. Playing in what turned out to be their closest game of the season, the Raiders used a 32-yard field goal by kicker Kevin Melendez late in the fourth quarter to escape with a 9–7 win over the Bobcats.
After more than three and a half quarters of football, the game came down to a few very important plays that decided the game. Trailing 7–6 to the visiting Bobcats with just over four minutes to play, Stonewall Jackson faced a 3rd-and-30 from inside their own territory. Dashon Reeves, the Raiders senior quarterback, dropped back to pass but quickly saw daylight to his right and took off down the sideline. Seven yards shy of the first-down marker, he was stopped short, setting up what looked like a difficult decision for the team’s coaching staff — 4th-and-7 from the Battlefield 34-yard line.
As it turned out, it was a decision the coaches wouldn’t have to make; the line judge threw his flag after the play, signaling for a 15-yard penalty against Battlefield, who had a player hit Reeves after he was already out of bounds. Rather than a tough fourth down, the Raiders now had a 1st-and-10 at the Battlefield 19-yard line.
Despite a new set of downs, the Raiders failed to convert, setting the stage for the team’s biggest field goal attempt all season. Melendez, an experienced senior, wasn’t shaken, however, and split the uprights with plenty of distance from 32 yards out to put the Raiders up 9–7.
Battlefield had a chance to put together their own heroic drive, but it never materialized. Stonewall Jackson, as they did all game, outmuscled the Bobcats offensive line and forced a turnover on downs in four quick plays. Moments later, a few kneel-downs out of the Raiders’ victory formation iced the game.
“Dashon Reeves stepped up and took control of the game,” Stonewall Jackson head coach Carroll Walker said after their victory over the one-win Bobcats. “You play some good games, you play bad games, and this was one of our bad games, but we still gave effort and overcame mistakes.”
Prior to Melendez’s field goal, each team punched in a short touchdown run for the game’s only other scores. For Stonewall Jackson, junior Xander Albea scored from two yards out, and for Battlefield, sophomore Jonathan Walters got in the end zone on a one-yard quarterback keeper.
Stonewall Jackson, now 5–1, will head out on the road to play Clarke County this coming week. Battlefield, who fell to 1–5 with the loss, will host John Champe.