By Randy Arrington
LURAY, Sept. 8 — In a game that took more than four hours to complete, the Luray Bulldogs came within inches of pushing the gridiron marathon with William Monroe into overtime. After a 7-7 stalemate at the end of three periods, 26 of the game’s 40 points would be scored in the fourth quarter. However, Luray would commit three of their four turnovers on the night in the second half, including an interception on their final possession.
The Bulldogs looked strong in the first quarter, as they stymied the Dragons’ opening possession after six plays. Luray recorded its first sack and then stuffed a fourth-down attempt. The home team then marched down the field for nearly eight minutes, covering 43 yards on 12 plays — including a 4-for-4 passing effort by freshman quarterback Ayden Haddock — before being stopped cold at the 19-yard line…by lightening.
A 90-minute delay ensued before the first quarter resumed just after 9 p.m. It then took Luray sophomore Cason Bryant two plays to find the end zone, after a 17-yard burst and a 2-yard plunge across the goal line. Luray took a 7-0 lead in the final seconds of the first period.
William Monroe started the second quarter by committing their only turnover of the night, fumbling on the fourth play after picking up their second first down. Both teams would exchange punts before Luray committed its first turnover, giving the Dragons the ball, first and goal, on the 9-yard line. Senior quarterback Davien Griffieth scored from one yard out on fourth-and-goal to tie the game at 7-7.
Neither team could do much more offensively before the half, although Luray recorded its second sack and Bryant broke loose for a 43-yard scamper that brought Luray out from deep in their own territory.
The Bulldogs turned the ball over (fumble, interception) on both possessions of the third quarter, despite picking up three first downs. William Monroe turned the ball over on downs on their first possession of the second half, but drove their second possession 64 yards on seven plays to go up 14-7 early in the fourth quarter. Senior running back Jackson Wood scored from 10 yards out.
Luray immediately answered back as Bryant found his groove again and went 57 yards on the first play to set up first-and-goal at the 10. Two plays later, Bryant rumbled in from four yards out. A missed PAT left the score at 14-13.
The game would be delayed for 15 minutes after the ensuing kickoff after a serious injury to a Luray player brought two ambulance units onto the field. When action resumed, William Monroe responded with a seven-play drive covering 64 yards that ended with Wood scoring his second touchdown from eight yards out. Wood also set up his rushing score with two big receptions of 26 and 37 yards during the drive. The Dragons were up 21-13 with about six minutes left in the game.
Once again, Luray was quick to respond. On the second play of the drive, senior Ryder Liscomb got the ball on a reverse and sprinted 30 yards to the end zone. A two-point conversion attempt fell just inches short of the goal line and left the score at 21-19 with about five minutes left.
After stopping a seven-play drive by the Dragons on fourth-and-three, Luray had one last shot, with little time on the clock. The Bulldogs looked to go to the air, and despite one completion, on second-and-13 at midfield, Griffieth intercepted the pass to seal the victory for William Monroe.
Wood was the workhorse for the visitors as he touched the ball 23 times (rushing and receiving) for 210 all-purpose yards. Monroe turned the ball over only once, and was only penalized three times for 30 yards (all in the second half). The Dragons put up 265 yards of offense, with 192 coming in the second half.
Bryant lead the Bulldogs with 154 yards on 16 carries (9.6 yards per carry) — including breakaway runs of 17, 43 and 57 — and two touchdowns. The Bulldogs went 5-11 through the air for 60 yards, with Liscomb hitting junior Drayvin Stevens for 32 yards on a run-option. Haddock went 4-for-10, with two interceptions. Luray recorded 305 yards of offense, turned the ball over a total of four times, and was penalized six times for 40 yards.
With the loss, the Bulldogs fall to 1-2 on the season. Luray hits the road next Friday and travels to Stuarts Draft for another non-district matchup at 7 p.m. on Sept. 15.
With the win, William Monroe moves to 2-1 on the season and will host Madison next Friday.
For full schedules, rosters and standings — check out the Bull Run District website.