BLUEFIELD - No. 3 Bluefield rode the running of scatback D.J. Stewart and the pass catching prowess of D.J. Edwards to a 28-0 first half lead, and then withstood the No. 14 Ravenswood Red Devils’ rally that scored two second quarter touchdowns and had four other scoreless chances inside the Beaver 15-yard line for a 31-14 win in the opening round of the Class AA playoffs at historic Mitchell Stadium Saturday night.
The Beavers grabbed momentum quickly taking the opening kickoff and marching 66 yards in just six plays for a touchdown. D. J. Stewart capped the drive with a four-yard run into the end zone. Francesco Desiderio booted the PAT and Bluefield led 7-0 with 10:02 still left in the first quarter.
Less than four minutes later, the Beavers struck again, moving 50 yards in just five plays for a score. Brandon Lilly hauled in a 13-yard TD pass from R.J. Bourne to cap the drive. Desiderio booted the PAT and Bluefield led 14-0 with 6:16 left in the opening quarter.
Ravenswood got untracked marching deep into Bluefield territory—the nine yard line—before incomplete passes into the end zone ended the scoring threat. Junior split end Thomas Sturm hauled in a 61-yard halfback pass from Rhys Jelich as the big Red Devil play of the drive with a half-the-distance personal foul horse-collar tackle penalty tacked on, just for good measure.
Bluefield again struck quickly after taking over on down with their backs against their own goalline. The Beavers scored in just three plays with Stewart darting the final 40 yards for the touchdown to cap a quick 91-yard march. Dewsiderio’s PAT kcik made it 21-0 with 0:05 left in the opening quarter.
Ravenswood answered with another long march of their own, driving to the Beaver’s nine yard line again, only to come away with no points spurning a field goal attempt for an incomplete fade pass to the end zone. As before, Bluefield scored after taking over on downs, marching 91 yards in seven plays. D.J. Edwards for the capping TD on a 13-yard pass to the backl corner of the end zone from Bourne. Desiderio’s PAT kick made it 28-0 with 6:48 left in the first half.
The Red Devils finally lit up their half of the scoreboard with an eight-play, 69-yard drive. Rhys Jelich capped the drive by hauling in a 11-yard TD pass from Heath Burgess on a wheel route. Nathan Cunninghan booted the PAT to make the score 28-7 with 3:37 left in the first half.
Ravenswood struck again just over three minutes later in spectacular fashion. Thomas Sturm hauled in a short sideline pass, slipped a tackle and raced 64 yards down the sideline for a touchdown. Cunningham’s PAT boot sliced the Bluefield advantage in half at 28-14 with 0:12 left in the first half.
Page 2 of 3 - The third quarter was a scoreless defensive struggle, although Ravenswood too the opening second half kickoff and marched into Bluefeild red zone again only to come up empty again, shunning a field goal try in favor of trying to pass for a touchdown.
In fact, the only point of the second half came with 8:45 left in the game on a 24-yard field goal by Desiderio to cap an 11-play, 64-yard drive. The three-pointer made the final score 31-14.
Ravenswood’s Thomas Sturm who ended up inhe hospital later Saturday night and Heath Burgess took some vicious hits from Bluefield defenders but maintained control of the football in the game. So did senior defensive back Nathan Withers on a blindside crack back. But Ravenswood delivered their own share of de-cleaters, punctuated by linebackers Connor Jelich and Matt Peery.
In his final game as a Red Devil, senior quarterback Heath Burgess led the Ravenswood rushing attack with 11 carries for 63 yards. Rhys Jelich added nine carries for 21 yards; Matt Peery three carries for eight yards; and Devon Crews who saw limited first half action, three carries five carries for a net seven yards. As a team, Ravenswood carried just 28 times for 99 net yards.
Burgess completed 15 of 37 passes for 181 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Rhys Jelich tried one pass complete for 61 yards. Thomas Sturm led the receiving corps with a monster game—six catches for 168 yards and a TD. Isaac Crow had three catches for 24 yards; Ben Johnson, one catch for 24 yards; Rhys Jelich, three catches for 11 yards and a TD; Matt Perry, two catches for nine yards; and Dylan Radabaugh, one catch for six yards.
Ravenswood totaled 341 offensive yards with 14 first downs (seven via rush and seven via pass) and drew five penalties for 45 yards.
D.J. Stewart led the Beavers with 19 carries for 172 yards and two TDs. Corey Coppola added 10 carries for 59 yards; Carlos Reed, three carries for 22 yards; Charles Ross, three carries for 10 yards; and R.J. Bourne, six carries for minus 27 yards. Bluefield totaled 41 carries for 236 net rushing yards.
Bourne completed 13 of 22 passes for 199 yards with two TDs. D.J. Stewart caught nine passes for 154 yards and a TD.
The Beavers totaled 435 offensive yards with 23 first downs (12 via rush, nine via pass and two via penalty) and drew nine flags for 82 yards.
Fir Ravenswood, Isaac Crow punted four times with a 43.5-yard average. Nathan Cunningham kicked off three times with a 40-yard average. Jordan Saunders had three kickoff returns for 46 yards and Rhys Jelich three for 59 yards.
Defensively, Connor Jelich led the Red Devils with his best game of the season with 17 tackles including a sack. Matt Peery (sack, PBU) and Rhys Jeich (PBU) added 10 tackles each; Nathan Cunningham (sack, fumble recovery) and Ben Johnson eight each, Thomas Sturm six, Matt Starcher five, Willy Parsons three, Nathan Withers (PBU), Damien Caldwell, Isaac Crow and on Crow two each and Roy Bush one.
Page 3 of 3 - “Bluefield has a great team,” said Coach Mick Price. “Thye jumped on us early. They’ll make some noise in the AA playoffs, but I’m very proud of my team for never giving up and playing hard tonight. They came a long way in turning around a 2-8 season to make the playoffs this season. I thought Heath Burgess played a super game, as did Thomas Sturm and all of them.
Ravenswood closes out a 6-5 campaign with the AA LKC crown, the Hatchet and a return to the playoffs after a one-year hiatus. Seniors Austin Hileman, Heath Burgess, Devon Crews, Nathan Cunningham, Willy Parsons, Jordan Saunders and Nathan Withers close out their Red Devil football careers.
(B) D.J. Stewart, four-yard run (Francesco Desiderio kick); 10:02 first quarter
(B) Brandon Lilly, 13-yard pass from R.J. Bourne (Desiderio kick); 6:16 first quarter
(B) Stewart, 40-yard run (Desiderio kick); 0:05 first quarter
(B) Edwards , 13-yard pass from Bourne (Desiderio kick); 6:48 second quarter
(R) Rhys Jelich, 11-yard pass from Heath Burgess (Nathan Cunningham kick); 3:37 second quarter
(R) Thomas Sturm, 64-yard pass from Burgess (Cunningham kick); 0:12 second quarter
(B) Desiderio, 24-yard field goal; 8:45 fourth quarter