MECHANICSVILLE – The first two drives of Tomato Bowl 61 between Patrick Henry and Lee-Davis were a microcosm of the action which unfolded before a chilled crowd.
While the Patriots finished their first possession with a 49-yard touchdown run from quarterback Alex Sikkar, Lee-Davis stalled inside the red zone, quarterback Mike Joyce throwing an interception on fourth down.
From there, it was all Patrick Henry, which won its third consecutive Tomato Bowl 35-0 to finish 7-3 in the regular season and clinch the fourth seed in the Region 4B playoffs.
The Confederates ended another disappointing season at 2-8.
“We knew Lee-Davis would come out and give their best effort. I thought we were able to make key plays at key times in all phases of the game,” said Patrick Henry head coach Ken Wakefield.
The aforementioned drives took up nearly the entire first quarter. Another promising Lee-Davis drive into Patriot territory came to a screeching halt because of penalties and a Patrick Henry sack. On fourth-and-32, a bad snap on a Lee-Davis punt attempt put the ball on the ground. The punter gamely tried to get the kick off, but it hit a Patriot defender and was recovered at the Lee-Davis 22.
Moments later, Tyler Newell raced 10 yards for a score for the 14-0 advantage Patrick Henry would eventually take to halftime. Lee-Davis opened the third quarter with a fumble, recovered by Patrick Henry at the 11. Newell scored on the next play, and Lee-Davis never seriously threatened again.
The Patriots also scored on a 19-yard pass from Sikkar to Zeik Williams and a 3-yard run from Cameron Toliver. Sikkar ended the night with 173 yards rushing, 65 through the air.
The win, combined with losses by Spotsylvania and Dinwiddie, clinched a home game in the first round of the region playoffs. Spotsylvania, who was upset by King George, comes to Ashland Friday night. For Wakefield, it’s deja vu all over again.
“This will be my third straight year against them in the playoffs,” Wakefield said. At Culpeper County High School, Wakefield won playoff games against the Knights each of the last two seasons. “Coach (Jeremy) Jack and I, we know each other pretty well.”
The Knights are physical, Wakefield said, and prefer power football, with a tailback and freshman tight end who are receiving Division I college offers.
“We just have to be really mindful of our strengths and try to use personnel to put us in the best situations possible,” Wakefield explained.
As for the Confederates, after three straight playoff appearances from 2015 to 2017, they’ve been victorious only three times in the past two seasons. In Region 4B, five to six wins make you a playoff contender. While there is a lot of work to be done to turn things around, if done successfully, the payoff for Lee-Davis can come quickly.
Rob Witham can be reached at email@example.com.