William Byrd High School officials officially dedicated the new artificial turf field at Patterson Stadium Friday, and then the Terrier football team made the day complete with a win on the new gridiron. Byrd took a 34-7 win over Cave Spring in the season opener for both.
“It was a good way to break in the new field,” said Byrd coach Jeff Highfill. “We were a little sluggish at first, but for the first game we played pretty well. The interception turned it around.”
Byrd senior Terrell Smith had the honor of making the first score on the new turf. He picked off a Jacob Knight pass in the flat and raced to paydirt to put the Terriers on the board, and Byrd led 7-0 after one quarter.
The Terriers broke it open in the second quarter with 20 more unanswered points to take a 27-0 lead at the half. The Byrdmen scored on their next three possessions after the “pick six” with Larry Basham scoring on a 15 yard run and junior quarterback Sam Dantzler scoring on runs of 29 and 10 yards.
After a scoreless third quarter Byrd freshman Dylan Hatfield scored his first varsity touchdown on a one yard run in the fourth period. The Knights avoided a shutout with a late TD, but the Byrd defense was strong in their 2017 debut.
“We started in a five man front but ended up playing four,” said Highfill. “They lost their best runningback and I’m sure that hurt their offense.”
Byrd’s defense held Cave Spring to just 77 rushing yards on 23 attempts, an average of just over three yards a carry. The Knights completed just 12 of 33 passes for a completion percentage of 36 percent.
Meanwhile, Byrd’s offense grinded out 387 rushing yards on 50 carries for an average gain of almost eight yards per attempt. The offensive line, a big question mark coming into the season, came through with flying colors.
“I was pleased with the line,” said Highfill. “I thought they played much better than expected.”
Byrd senior Basham was the beneficiary as he rushed for 266 yards on 25 carries. Dantzler had 96 yards rushing on 12 carries while Hatfield ran twice for 12 and Logan Baker ran twice for 11.
The Terriers passed the ball just twice and one was intercepted, but as long as the Knights weren’t stopping Byrd on the ground there was no need to fret.
Defensively, Logan Taylor led the Terriers with eight tackles. Trevor Hill had five and Hunter Meador, Nic Hale and Matt Hale had four tackles each. Smith added two tackles to go with his interception.
This week the Terriers will meet the other south Roanoke County team as Byrd is back home to host Hidden Valley. Expect to see more balls in the air, at least by the visitor, as the Titans are led by 6’4” senior quarterback Jonah Fitzgerald.
“He’s a real good quarterback,” said Highfill. “The whole offense revolves around him. He’s smart and he does it all. He can run and he throws it all over the place. I hope we don’t see any better than him all year.”
Hidden Valley opened with a 41-38 overtime loss to Patrick Henry at Bogle Stadium in south county last Friday. Fitzgerald ran for two touchdowns and threw for two others.
“I think they shocked everyone taking PH to overtime,” said Highfill.
Byrd’s jayvees also won last week, defeating Cave Spring in overtime, 13-12. The jayvees will play Hidden Valley at Bogle Stadium tonight at 6 pm.