Magna Vista scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns Friday, breaking a 14-14 tie with G.W.-Danville. Warriors quarterback Dryus Hairston threw and ran for a touchdown in the game’s final nine minutes, and Magna Vista registered a 28-14 victory in Danville to take control atop the Piedmont District standings.
The Warriors lost 20-14 last week to Halifax County but responded with a hard-fought victory against the Eagles.
“It was a huge rebound. We didn’t play well last week, and I think the whole group was a little embarrassed about it,” said Magna Vista head coach Joe Favero. “Tonight we played much better. We’ve got a great group of seniors, and I think they really led us tonight.”
The win, coupled with Halifax County’s loss to Patrick County on Friday, gives the Warriors (7-2, 4-1) the top spot in the district heading into the final week of the regular season at Bassett.
The Eagles (6-3, 4-1), meanwhile, slide to second in the district and must win next week against winless Martinsville to maintain that position.
“At the end of the day, maybe this will get us a little more focused and humble us a little bit,” GW head coach Nick Anderson said.
The Warriors took the lead for good when Hairston scored on a 2-yard run to go ahead 21-14 with 8:45 left in the fourth quarter. Magna Vista sealed the game on GW’s next drive, when Rion Martin intercepted Eagles quarterback Sha’Kobe Hairston with 7:05 to play.
“That’s a huge play,” Favero said. “It took the momentum and got us the ball back in great field position where we just had to finish the drive. That’s a great job by our defense and our defensive staff getting them ready.”
The Warriors cashed in on the turnover less than a minute later as Dryus Hairston found Drew Santoemma for a 13-yard score on fourth down.
“The defense can ball,” Hairston said. “They put us in a great position every time.”
The game’s conclusion was a far cry from its beginning, when GW receiver Shawn Watlington took a hand-off and ran 67 yards for a touchdown on the third play of the evening.
The Eagles were held scoreless the rest of the half, however, despite being gifted two fumbles in the second quarter in Warriors territory.
The inability to score was also detrimental in the second half, most notably on a 4th-and-goal play from the 4-yard line when Wesley Graves was tripped up after two yards.
The Eagles also fumbled the ball away on the first play of the fourth quarter.
In all, G.W.’s offense was not as opportunistic as it usually has been this season.
“Our defense played well tonight — they got turnovers, they held them at times,” Anderson said. “But the offense just didn’t play well tonight. We’ve got to eliminate some of these mistakes. We’ve got to execute better on offense before the playoffs start.”
Magna Vista got on the board early in the second quarter on a 29-yard pass from Hairston to Ty Grant. The extra point after the score failed, and the Eagles took a 7-6 lead into halftime.
“We only gave up one play defensively [to Watlington] early in the game ... and after that, defensively we played great,” Favero said. “Offensively, we just didn’t finish drives and we turned the ball over a couple of times in that first half.”
The Warriors snagged the lead less than a minute into the third quarter. Hairston found Louis Taylor for 24 yards and then converted a two-point conversion pass to Tyler Johnson for a 14-7 edge.
“We told them at halftime, we could control the game if we went out and played cleaner,” Favero said, “and I think that’s what we did.”
A 23-yard touchdown from GW’s Willie Edmunds Jr. tied the game with 4:13 left in the third, and the game went to the fourth with that same score.