Football coaches talk all the time about how hard it is to win a game when you turn the ball over.
On Friday night, Culpeper County turned the ball over six times on the way to a 42-7 loss against visiting Handley.
“Turnovers killed us tonight,” Culpeper acting head coach Brandon Utz said. “Handley is a very good team, but we didn’t do ourselves any favors by turning the ball over like we did.”
The Blue Devils' first drive looked promising after running back Riley Harrison broke off a 67-yard run down to the Judges' 16-yard line. However, quarterback JoJo Crenshaw threw an interception two plays later that ended the scoring threat.
Handley (5-0 overall, 2-0 Class 4 Northwestern District) wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, reaching into its bag of trick plays to do so.
On said play, Judges quarterback Malachi Imoh took the snap and threw a backwards pass to Mason Smith, who turned and fired to a wide-open Stephen Daley for a 70-yard touchdown.
The remainder of the first half belonged to Imoh.
On the Judges’ next possession, Imoh ripped off a 48-yard run that moved the ball inside the Culpeper 20-yard line. Two plays later, his 6-yard scoring scamper gave Handley a 14-0 advantage.
After Crenshaw threw another interception on the Blue Devils’ ensuing drive, Imoh went 56 yards for his second touchdown of the night to put the Judges up 21-0 late in the first quarter.
Imoh finished the game with 204 yards rushing on 21 carries.
A second-team all-Region 4C selection as a running back last year, Imoh has brought a dual-threat element to Handley’s offense since switching positions during the offseason.
“Malachi makes my job easier,” Judges head coach Dan Jones said. “He makes plays happen and does great things [for our offense]. We’re always on the same page because he's such a smart kid. We are fortunate to have him.”
Utz was impressed with Imoh as well.
“He’s special,” Utz remarked. “He is a good athlete who carries that team and does a very nice job with that workload. We watched him on film this week, and he's done this to everybody [Handley] has played. I just don’t like being another notch in the belt.”
Imoh took to the air in the second quarter, connecting with Daley for a 9-yard score to give the Judges a 28-0 halftime edge.
Culpeper (1-4, 0-2) was able to make some defensive adjustments that slowed down Imoh and Co. in the second half, but the Blue Devils were unable to do enough offensively to climb back into the game.
Harrison scored Culpeper’s lone touchdown on a 58-yard jaunt in the third quarter.
Jones lauded the performance of Handley’s defense, which picked off Crenshaw five times.
“I’m ecstatic about the way our defense played,” Jones said. “We weren't sure what Culpeper was going to run because they’ve run a couple different concepts this year, but our defense did an outstanding job adjusting to what they saw.”
Following Harrison’s scoring run, the Judges’ Miles Ashe returned the ensuing kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown. Imoh added a 23-yard run in the fourth quarter for the final margin.
Utz said he believes the Blue Devils are capable of a much better performance than what the scoreboard showed on Friday night.
“I know we can compete with these teams,” he said, referencing losses to Liberty and Spotsylvania in recent weeks as well as Friday’s setback. “We just have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot.”