Friday in Lynchburg was the Louis Taylor game.
After one touchdown on one carry on the first possession, the Magna Vista senior turned that into two touchdowns on three carries midway through the first quarter. By halftime, he had upped that to four touchdowns on eight carries.
Midway through the third quarter, No. 4 picked up touchdown No. 5 on the night. He finished with 97 yards rushing on 12 carries, more than 8 yards a touch, and a score for every 2.4 rush attempts.
The Warriors defeated Liberty Christian Academy 49-14.
Taylor was clearly comfortable playing on the field where Liberty Christian plays, which is a good thing because he’ll find himself playing a lot more games there the next four years. He’s verbally committed to Liberty University, which lends it field to LCA on Friday nights.
“When you have players and they get offers you expect them to play big and you expect them to play big in big games,” Magna Vista Head Coach Joe Favero said of Taylor. “I know he was excited to come up here and seeing and playing on where he’s going to play in college. The whole team was excited about the way he played tonight, and that’s what you want. He’s been working his tail off and I thought the offensive line did a great job of opening holes up for him and the wide receives blocking down field helped us tremendously as well.”
Taylor provided the bulk of Magna Vista’s offense in the win. The Warriors had just one other offensive score – a 12-yard run by junior running back Kylan Brown set up by a 34-yard pass from junior Dryus Hairston to senior Drew Santoemma one play earlier.
The other score came on the defensive end by junior Dekavis Preston, who returned a 25-yard interception for six.
Magna Vista senior kicker Cory Osborne was a perfect 7-for-7 on extra points.
“I felt great. First game with the fellas. It’s a great way to start the season,” Taylor said after the game.
“I thought we executed really well,” Favero said. “Scored on our first two drives, played the way we wanted to early, and that’s a credit to these kids. My seniors, I thought they did a great job of leading them and getting everybody ready.”
Friday night the Warriors proved the “Blue Funk” defense fans have become accustomed to seeing in Ridgeway is back in a big way. In addition to Preston’s pick-6, the Warriors also forced a fumble in the first half that was recovered by senior linebacker Logan George, and forced three turnovers-on-downs by LCA. The Bulldogs had just one yard rushing on the night on 19 carries.
“One yard rushing is pretty impressive,” Favero said.
Senior defensive lineman Nickalus Estes Jr. and senior linebacker Tavion Gravely each had a sack of LCA quarter Josh Nelson.
Favero also praised his defense with setting up the early scores for the offense, and helping with putting the momentum on Magna Vista’s side early.
“When you get short fields it makes it way easier and the defense even got a score,” Favero said. “That was a great play by Dekavis Preston there to make the pick and then get in the endzone. That’s the way we want to play. Fast, physical, and hungry for the football. And I think (defensive coordinator) Joe Fielder and his group on defense did a great job of getting them ready and they did a great job tonight.”
“It helped tremendously,” said Taylor, who also plays defense for the Warriors. “Defensive turnovers always change the game.”
Not quite perfect
Favero said he was worried how his team would look in the first game of the season considering they weren’t able to get the warm-up they hoped for. The team’s scheduled scrimmage against Lord Botetourt last Friday was cancelled, leaving them to instead play a last-minute mini-scrimmage against Martinsville.
On top of the nerves of a first game, the team also had trouble getting to Lynchburg after one of the team’s buses broke down.
“We got a chance to come here. I was excited about it when we signed up for it a couple years ago and I knew the kids would be excited to come out here and play,” Favero said. “I was worried about nerves a little bit… Doing everything live for the first time, but I thought our kids were very focused the whole ride up. We ended up having a bus break down, we had to pile into two buses and came up sweating to death but the kids put all that behind them and came out.”
Magna Vista was firing on all cylinders, but still showed signs of early season jitters. The Warriors had six false starts on offense, and were penalized for a total of 40 yards.
On special teams, punter Jacob Kerrick, an all-state selection at the position a season ago, had two punts blocked, one in the first and one in the fourth quarter.
Neither issue affected the Warriors, and both can likely be chalked up to having not had any game play before Friday night.
Quarterback Dryus Hairston was 4-7 passing for 114 yards, and ran for an additional 46 yards on 11 carries.
Santoemma had three catches for 77 yards, and Jacques Martin had one for 37. Brown had nine carries for 25 yards and a score.
Magna Vista will go back on the road next Friday to Dan River. The Wildcats had a decisive 35-7 victory over Tunstall Friday night, holding the Trojans scoreless in the final three quarters.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Ringgold.
Magna Vista 49, Liberty Christian 14
MVHS 14 28 7 0 — 49
LCA 7 0 7 0 — 14
MVHS 9:38 — L. Taylor 18 run, C. Osborne kick good (7-0)
MVHS 6:43 — L. Taylor 11 run, C. Osborne kick good (14-0)
LCA 2:06 — W. Wycoff 13 catch, kick good (14-7)
MVHS 11:54 — L. Taylor 17 run, C. Osborne kick good (21-7)
MVHS 10:09 — D. Preston 25 interception, C. Osborne kick good (28-7)
MVHS 6:03 — K. Brown 12 run, C. Osborne kick good (35-7)
MVHS 0:31 — L. Taylor 5 run, C. Osborne kick good (42-7)
LCA 5:14 — W. Wycoff 21 catch from J. Nelson, kick good (42-14)
MVHS 0:34 — L. Taylor 18 run, C. Osborne kick good (49-14)
Cara Cooper is the sports editor of the Martinsville Bulletin. You can reach her at (276)638-8801 ext. 241.