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BASTIAN – Bland County was determined to not allow Galax any special teams touchdowns or long scoring drives. The Maroon Tide was happy to settle for one big play and a slew of little ones.
Stopping Bland County on fourth down deep in Bears territory time and again Friday, Galax scored eight touchdowns on just 18 offensive plays through the first three periods, rolling to a 56-8 Mountain Empire District win.
A surprise win by Graham over previously-unbeaten Fort Chiswell gives Galax (5-4 overall, 3-1 district) a chance to play for a share of the MED title this week at Grayson County. On a wider scale, losses by the No. 1 Pioneers, No. 4 Covington and No. 8 George Wythe will result in what should be a fairly significant shakeup in the VHSL Group 1A West Region ratings, which are due to be released today.
Bland County (0-9, 0-4) capitalized on its first fourth-down attempt of the night when Dylan Walker burst up the middle on fourth-and-1 from his own 39 and outran the pursuit for a 61-yard touchdown, then bulled his way across for the two-point conversion to give the Bears an 8-0 lead just 51 seconds into the game.
Though the lead didn’t change hands immediately, momentum did. After a special teams blunder and an illegal block on the ensuing kickoff, Galax opened its initial series on its own 2-yard line. Ninety-eight yards and 17 seconds later, Tide runningback Steven Peoples was crossing the goal line on the first of three one-play scoring drives in the first quarter.
Keyshawn Brown’s fourth-down sack of Bland quarterback Mason Christian returned the ball to Galax at the midfield stripe, and Peoples was in the end zone three carries later, this time from 34 yards out. Jonathen Reyna, who was 8-for-8, added the PAT and Galax was off to the races, leading 14-8.
Bland County’s next four possessions saw the Bears go for it on fourth-and-15 at their own 27, fourth-and-11 at the 22, fourth-and-1 at the 36 and fourth-and-18 from the 27. None were converted, leaving the Maroon Tide an average starting field position of the Bland 28-yard line on its final four possessions of the first half. Galax needed no more than three plays to cover any of those distances.
Joseph Dixon scored from the 27 and Peoples added a 22-yarder to conclude the first quarter with Galax leading 28-8. Peoples added a 25-yard score and Dixon an 18-yarder in the second to send the Maroon Tide into the half with a 42-8 lead.
Galax kept Peoples in the game for three plays to start the third quarter in order to get past the 35-point spread and bring on the continuously-running clock. He carried three times from the Galax 34, including a 57-yard scoring run, leaving the game at that point with 281 yards and five touchdowns on just 10 carries. He will enter Week 10 needing 43 yards to reach 2,000 for the season despite playing in just nine games.
Charles Harris capped the scoring for Galax late in the third period with a physical 8-yard run. One last fourth-down attempt by Bland, this on fourth-and-3 from its own 15, nearly set up one last Tide score. Malik Robinson was hauled down at the 1 after a 14-yard gain and Galax knelt on the ball twice to end the game.
The Maroon Tide racked up 401 yards on just 27 carries, didn’t attempt a pass and never punted. Dixon had 68 yards on five attempts.
Behind a rugged 123 yards on 18 Walker carries, Bland County managed 140 yards on 49 rushes, attempted two passes and never punted.
Galax 56, Bland Co. 8
Galax..................28 14 14 0––56
Bland County........8 0 0 0–– 8
BC–Walker 61 run (Walker run) 11:08
G–Peoples 98 run (Reyna kick) 10:58
G–Peoples 34 run (Reyna kick) 6:53
G–Dixon 27 run (Reyna kick) 4:22
G–Peoples 22 run (Reyna kick) 1:33
G–Peoples 25 run (Reyna kick) 7:50
G–Dixon 18 run (Reyna kick) 1:46
G–Peoples 57 run (Reyna kick) 10:22
G–Harris 8 run (Reyna kick) 3:33
First downs 12 6
Rushes-yards 27-401 49-140
Yards passing 0 0
Comp-Att-Int 0-0-0 0-2-0
Return yards 6 76
Punts-average 0-0 0-0
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 4-33 2-10
RUSHING—Galax, Peoples 10-281, Dixon 5-68, Robinson 7-28, Harris 3-26, team 2-(-2). Bland County, Walker 18-123, Parker 8-30, Boyd 1-1, Faulkner 3-0, Miller 8-0, Christian 11-(-13).
PASSING–Galax, none. Bland County, Christian 0-2-0-0.
RECEIVING–Galax, none. Bland County, none.