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Galax pounded the ball on the ground for 345 yards Friday night en route to a 45-19 opening round win over Chilhowie in the Western Section Division I playoffs at home.
The Maroon Tide (7-4) averaged 8.6 yards per carry despite playing without their top running back Donte Peoples, who suffered a season ending injury the week before.
Younger brother Steven Peoples carried the load during the first quarter, scoring four of Galax’s first five touchdowns.
Peoples racked up 184 yards on the ground on 12 carries and picked off Chilhowie (4-7) quarterback Dylan Thomas for a 60-yard pick-six in the first quarter.
Late in the second quarter Peoples went down with an injury and didn’t return to the game.
Galax continued to attack their opponent on the ground, rushing 40 times out of 44 offensive snaps.
The Tide offense moved the ball effortlessly during the first half of the game following a three-and-out on its opening drive.
Taking over on its own 20-yard-line to begin its second possession, Galax needed just one run from Peoples to put the first points on the board. Peoples – as he and his brother have done numerous times this year – found a gap on the left side of the Maroon Tide line and was off to the races.
The junior ran 80 yards untouched for his first six points of the evening. Following an Eli Brady kick, the Tide led 7-0.
On the ensuing possession, the Warriors moved the ball into Galax territory before Peoples picked off quarterback Dylan Thomas and returned the interception 60 yards for another six points. The extra point put Galax up 14-0 with 4:53 left in the first quarter.
The second quarter was all about the points, as the teams combined for 43 of the game’s 64 points. Chilhowie used a fake punt on fourth and two miles to move deep into Galax territory before a J.C. Pruitt fumble inside the Tide 5-yard-line gave the ball back to the Maroon Tide.
On the first play from scrimmage on the next drive, Peoples ran straight up the gut and barreled over a Chilhowie defender on his way to yet another 80-yard touchdown. A holding call, however, negated the run and the Maroon Tide took over on their own 12-yard line. Eight plays later Joseph Dixon used a block off the right side of the Galax line for his first touchdown of the night.
Brady kicked the extra point and the Tide led 21-0 with 8:35 left in the half.
The Warriors’ back luck continued on the ensuing kickoff when Buddy Brooks fumbled on the return. The turnover gave Galax the ball on the Chilhowie 20-yard-line and three plays later Peoples ran into a wall of defenders just outside the 5-yard-line before carrying the trio into the end zone for yet another Galax touchdown.
Chilhowie got on the board quickly, however, returning the ensuing kickoff for a 96-yard touchdown.
The next drive for the Maroon Tide began on its own 30-yard line and Chris Poole found a wide open Caleb Spurlin to move deep into Chilhowie territory on the first play of the drive. On the next play Peoples once again ran straight through a Chilhowie defender as he stood at the 11-yard line on his way to another six points.
Following the Brady extra point the Tide led 35-7.
Chilhowie managed to score on its next possession, closing the gap to 35-15. The Warriors’ Thomas converted a critical fourth-and-5 early in the drive and capped the scoring drive off with a touchdown pass to Reid Sturgill.
Thomas threw into coverage and Sturgill went up over two Tide defenders and came down with the ball in the end zone.
Galax added another touchdown before the half on its next possession. On the first play of the drive Peoples went down on the sideline and grimaced in pain. Flashbacks of the week before when the Tide lost its top offensive threat, the crowd and players went silent as they waited to see if Peoples would get up or not.
After a few minutes on the sideline, Peoples managed a light jog up and down the sideline before taking to the bench for the remainder of the game.
Where Peoples left off, however, Dixon picked up.
The sophomore managed 140 yards on the ground on 19 carries, averaging just over 7 yards per carry.
Dixon reached the end zone twice and helped shoulder the load of the Tide’s run-first offense.
On the night, Galax finished with 345 yards on the ground and 91 through the air.
Chilhowie managed 127 yards on the ground and 148 through the air, but struggled to finish drives all night.
At the end of the night the Maroon Tide were too much for the Warriors’ defense to handle and Galax took an opening round win.
The No. 8 Maroon Tide will travel to top-seeded Honaker in the second round this week.
Galax 49, Chilhowie 15
Chilhowie........0 15 0 0––15
Galax............14 28 0 7––49
Gx–S.Peoples 80 run (Brady kick) 8:30
Gx–S.Peoples 60 interception return (Brady kick) 4:53
Gx–Dixon 14 run (Brady kick) 8:35
Gx–S.Peoples 19 run (Brady kick) 7:42
Ch–Farris 94 kickoff return (Farris kick) 7:26
Gx–S.Peoples 33 run (Brady kick) 6:55
Ch–Sturgill 22 pass from Thomas (Farris run) 2:50
Gx–Dixon 7 run (Brady kick) 0:14
Gx–Gable 11 pass from Poole (Brady kick) 5:19
First downs 16 18
Rushes-yards 32-127 40-345
Yards passing 164 91
Comp-Att-Int 17-31-1 4-6-0
Return yards 165 74
Punts-average 3-37.0 2-39.0
Fumbles-lost 3-3 0-0
Penalties-yards 6-40 8-80
RUSHING—Chilhowie, Pruitt 10-41, Vance 4-37, Brooks 9-34, Farris 2-19, Sturgill 1-2, Thomas 6-(-6). Galax, S.Peoples 12-184, Dixon 19-140, Smith 4-17, Poole 3-5, Harris 2-(-1).
PASSING–Chilhowie, Thomas 16-30-1-148, Sturgill 1-1-0-16. Galax, Poole 4-6-0-91.
RECEIVING–Chilhowie, Sturgill 6-75, Brooks 4-34, Phipps 3-25, Thomas 1-16, Pruitt 2-7. Galax, Spurlin 1-34, Gomez 1-32, Dixon 1-14, Gable 1-11.