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RADFORD –– One man really can make a difference.
Radford’s Dontae Carter scored on a pair of 71-yard touchdown runs, but it was his deflection of a potential game-tying pass in the waning moments that may have been the biggest play of the night as the Bobcats survived a legitimate scare from Galax before taking a 27-21 nondistrict win Friday at Norman Lineburg Field.
Having led 14-0 at one point, the Maroon Tide (2-2) had recovered from a 27-point onslaught by Radford (3-0) and scored on a 7-yard Jordan Vaughan run to pull to within a touchdown with more than eight minutes to play.
After forcing Radford to punt and taking over on its own 30, the Tide methodically marched 53 yards to a first down at the Bobcat 17. A couple of mix-ups in the backfield on running plays wasted two downs and Terrance Mazon’s pass into the end zone on third down sailed over Deion George’s head, leaving Galax one last shot at its first win over the Bobcats in 29 years.
A perfect fourth-down play call had Vaughan out of the backfield and all alone at the goal line, and Mazon’s pass was headed to between the two 3s on Vaughan’s jersey before Carter came out of nowhere to break it up.
“We had a nice play there at the end, I was getting ready to celebrate and the kid makes a great play on us,” Galax coach Mark Dixon said. “Just a great football play. You can’t call [interference] there. It was just a great play by a great player.”
A hot start gave Galax its best shot at knocking off the Bobcats since a 23-20 win in 1981, when both were still in Double-A and members of the New River District. Galax punched Radford in the nose with 14 unanswered points to open the game, but couldn’t contain Carter, who led the Bobcats to four straight touchdowns.
Forcing a three-and-out on Radford’s first possession, Galax used a 45-yard punt return by Jerad Brown as impetus for its first score, a 9-yard Mazon pass to tight end Zach Testerman. The first of Miguel Lopez’s three PATs had Galax in front 7-0 a little more than four minutes into the game.
The Tide executed a 17-play drive, unheard-of against the Bobcats for a generation, to go 80 yards for a two-touchdown lead. Brown carried 11 times during the drive for 42 yards, and with the Radford defense keying on Brown, Mazon capped the drive with a 4-yard keeper with 5:30 left in the half.
Carter took ownership of the game from there. On the first play following the kickoff, the Radford quarterback kept on a dive option and sprinted 71 yards for the Bobcats’ first score, and Caleb Findley’s PAT cut the lead in half with 5:12 left in the half.
“He’s a great player,” said Dixon. “He did it all night long. He made some gigantic plays for them in the first half to get them going, and it took us a while to respond. He does it every week. You have to bring so much pressure all the time against him to try to contain him that if there’s a crack, there’s no second line of defense.”
A partially-blocked Galax punt put Radford in business at the Galax 49, and Carter had two keepers to the 27 before hitting Josh Smith on a 25-yard touchdown pass 1:22 before intermission.
Radford held Galax to three downs and a punt to open the second half, and Carter reeled off his second 71-yarder of the night three plays later, putting the Bobcats on top 20-14 at 8:40 of the third after the missed PAT.
Radford may have caught its biggest break of the night on Galax’s next possession. Brown punted from his own 31 and the ball clearly bounced off the foot of the Bobcat deep man Dashon Devore and was picked up by Galax at the 35. The carom went unnoticed and Radford took over, soon to extend its lead to two touchdowns as Carter connected with Kevin Adkins on an underneath route for a 14-yard score with :02 showing in the third quarter.
Looking at another three-and-out, Galax appeared out of it until a low snap in punt formation forced Brown to take off, and his scramble produced a 10-yard run for a first down at the Galax 41.
Mazon found George open for a 29-yard gain, and a personal foul call on Radford gave Galax a first down at the Bobcat 10. Vaughan, kept off the field most of the night with a sore back, got his first two touches of the game from there, including a rugged 7-yard touchdown run for a 27-21 ballgame with 8:09 to go.
Galax then backed Radford into a fourth-and-27 to set up its final shot at the win.
“We just don’t know how to win the big ones,” Dixon said. “We don’t know how to win yet. They gave it all they’ve got. They left their hearts out there, but we’ve got to get over the hump.”
The Maroon Tide outgained the Bobcats 297-258 in total offense, including a yeoman effort by Brown, who carried 23 times for 97 yards. Mazon and Vaughan chipped in with 49 and 44 yards, respectively, and George caught three passes for 47 yards as Mazon completed 6-of-13 for 78 yards.
Carter was it for Radford. The senior accounted for all but 14 yards of the Bobcats’ offensive production, carrying 16 times for 171 yards and completing 5-of-8 passes for 73 yards and two touchdowns.
Galax..........7 7 0 7––21
Radford......0 14 13 0––27
Gal–Testerman 9 pass from Mazon (Lopez kick) 7:54
Gal–Mazon 4 run (Lopez kick) 5:30
Rad–Carter 71 run (Findley kick) 5:12
Rad–Smith 25 pass from Carter (Findley kick) 1:22
Rad–Carter 71 run (kick failed) 8:40
Rad–Adkins 14 pass from Carter (Findley kick) 0:02
Gal–Vaughan 7 run (Lopez kick) 8:09
First downs 14 9
Rushes-yards 50-219 30-185
Yards passing 78 73
Comp-Att-Int 6-13-1 5-8-0
Return yards 143 92
Punts-average 4-32.5 4-45.0
Fumbles-lost 3-1 1-0
Penalties-yards 4-25 4-42
RUSHING—Galax, Brown 23-97, Mazon 10-49, Vaughan 8-44, Shalabi 9-29. Radford, Carter 16-171, Adkins 6-13, Mitchell 4-7, Dark 2-2, Minter 2-(-8).
PASSING–Galax, Mazon 6-13-1-78. Radford, Carter 5-7-0-73, Dark 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING–Galax, George 3-47, Brown 1-16, Testerman 1-9, Shalabi 1-6. Radford, Smith 1-25, Patterson 1-23, Adkins 2-21, Palmer 1-4.