For the second straight week, the Culpeper County football team found itself trailing by double-digits at halftime, and for the second straight week the Blue Devils mounted a comeback.
However, just as in last week’s loss to James Wood, Culpeper’s rally fell short with a 21-16 loss to Fauquier.
With their two-pronged running attack of Ky’lil Kiawu and Nick Shadyac, the visiting Falcons (4-3 overall, 2-2 Class 4 Northwestern District) ran the ball effectively for most of the night.
Shadyac opened the scoring with a 3-yard touchdown run that gave Fauquier a 7-0 lead with 25 seconds remaining in the first quarter. The shifty senior finished the game with 47 yards on 11 carries.
The bulk of the work for the Falcons came from Kiawu, a junior, who rushed for 71 yards and a pair of scores.
“I knew on my second carry, when the holes started opening up, that it could be a good night,” Kiawu said.
The first touchdown for Kiawu came on a fourth-and-3 play when he found the edge and raced 25 yards to the end zone to extend Fauquier’s advantage to 14-0 with 6:41 left in the first half.
Kiawu’s second score came with less than 20 seconds remaining in the stanza—a 3-yard scamper that pushed the Falcons’ edge to 21-0.
Fauquier head coach Karl Buckwalter talked about the importance of having a healthy running back rotation for the regular season’s stretch run.
“It’s a spark to have Kiawu and Shadyac playing together,” he said. “It gives us extra depth and it’s kept us healthy back there through seven games.”
Meanwhile, Culpeper (1-6, 0-4) struggled to get its running game going early on. A week after recording 239 yards on the ground at James Wood, the Blue Devils were held to just 14 yards in the first half by Fauquier.
However, Culpeper would get a boost from its passing game in the second half.
With 7:35 to play in the third quarter, Blue Devils quarterback JoJo Crenshaw found Dejour McCray on an 8-yard slant for a touchdown, cutting the Falcons’ lead to 21-8.
After a 6-yard scoring run by Austin Lentz on Culpeper’s next drive, Crenshaw and McCray hooked up again—this time for a two-point conversion—to pull the Blue Devils within 21-16 with 1:41 remaining in the period.
Crenshaw, who shook off a pair of interceptions to finish 12-of-24 for 148 yards, said McCray is a difference-maker when the ball is in the air.
“He’s really athletic and really fast,” Crenshaw remarked. “All I have to do is put it up there and he’ll go get it.”
McCray finished the night with eight receptions for 86 yards.
Culpeper had multiple chances to take the lead in the fourth quarter, but came up short on both occasions.
The first instance came after the Blue Devils drove from their own 20-yard line to the Falcons’ 35 midway through the stanza. Fauquier’s defense stiffened, however, forcing Culpeper to turn the ball over on downs.
The Blue Devils’ last gasp ended when Crenshaw was sacked on a fourth-down play with 1:20 to go.
“Everyone talks about whether or not you move the ball [on offense], but it’s gonna come down to us making a stop or two on defense. It has all year,” Buckwalter said. “Our kids are mad, and that’s a good thing. They know that we didn’t play that great [tonight] despite the win. Last week when they beat Kettle Run, they celebrated. Tonight, they didn’t.”
Despite the loss, Culpeper acting head coach Brandon Utz still feels his team is headed in the right direction.
“We have a lot of two-way kids right now,” Utz said. “Because of that, I think it’s hard for them to have enough steam left to come back when we get down. There’s no question about their effort or the staff’s effort—they all buy in. We’re going to be dangerous in the coming years because they know how to compete. I just want to start turning some of these comebacks into runaway wins.”
Fau—Nick Shadyac 3-yard run (J.T. Diehl kick).
Fau—Ky’lil Kiawu 25-yard run (J.T. Diehl kick).
Fau—Ky’lil Kiawu 3-yard run (J.T. Diehl kick).
CC—Dejour McCray 8-yard pass from JoJo Crenshaw (Riley Harrison run).
CC—Austin Lentz 6-yard run (Dejour McCray pass from JoJo Crenshaw).
RUSHING: Fauquier—Ky’lil Kiawu 16-71, 2 TD; Nick Shadyac 11-47, TD; J.T. Diehl 10-35; DeAndre Chavis 1-4. Culpeper County—Austin Lentz 11-9, TD; Riley Harrison 9-14; Dejour McCray 2-17; JoJo Crenshaw 1-3; Cam Lacy 3-(-2).
PASSING: Fauquier—J.T. Diehl 7-11-0, 86 yards. Culpeper County—JoJo Crenshaw 12-24-2, 148 yards, TD; Dejour McCray 0-1-0.
RECEIVING: Fauquier—Cameron Swift 3-62; Stirling Ellis 1-25; Kyle Dargis 1-7; Nick Shadyac 1-0; Ky’lil Kiawu 1-(-8). Culpeper County—Dejour McCray 8-86, TD; Armani Hoffman 3-55; Joe Holland 1-7.