CHARLOTTESVILLE — Eastern Hancock quarterback Jarett Lewis might be an underclassmen, but he understands the significance of Senior Night.
Passing for 178 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for two more, the sophomore and the Royals grinded out win No. 9 to finish the regular season unbeaten as Class 2A No. 2 Eastern Hancock blanked Lapel 26-0 on Friday.
“The seniors push us every day at practice. They’re great leaders, so we wanted to come out here and finish the season undefeated for them,” Lewis said.
The shutout win secured Eastern Hancock’s (9-0) second perfect regular season in three years — the last occurred in 2013 when the Royals rolled to the state finals. But the performance was far from flawless as the Royals fumble three times and lost possession twice.
The damage was minimal, though, with the defense holding Lapel standout running back Will Jones scoreless. The junior did thrive between the 20-yard lines, rushing for 180 yards on 28 carries. He came into the night averaging 213.8 yards per game and racked up 22 touchdowns in eight games.
“Give credit to Lapel, they came out and played hard and attacked us,” O’Hara said. “Their running back did a great job, but our kids responded. We have some good skilled players on offense, and they’re fast.”
Devin Denny, a junior, proved the most elusive, leading the Royals with 159 yards on 7.2 yards per carry to put him over 1,000 yards rushing on the season (1,109).
A lost fumble on the their initial drive in the first quarter slowed the Royals early, but Lewis went to the air on their next possession to give his team the advantage.
Lewis connected with senior Matt Bowman on first-and-10 for a 64-yard touchdown, putting the Royals up 6-0.
Following two stops by the defense, Lewis orchestrated a 12-play drive late in the second quarter, finding senior Clayton Brumfield for a 28-yard pass-and-catch touchdown with 14.6 seconds left before halftime.
“Jarett threw some good balls tonight, and we had some guys get down field and throw some good blocks,” Eastern Hancock head coach Jim O’Hara said. “We weren’t sharp. We were off school this week, but that’s not an excuse, so were they. We lost a little focus. We can’t turn the ball over. We have to take care of that baby.”
The Royals coughed up their second fumble after the defense forced a turnover on downs as Lapel drove 76 yards into Eastern Hancock’s red zone. The Royals marched down to Lapel’s 18 on a 46-yard run by Denny, but the back lost the ball on his next carry. The Royals’ defense stood it’s ground again to finish out the third quarter, and on third-and-6 from Lapel’s 19, Brumfield picked off quarterback Levi Frazier to give Eastern Hancock a short field.
Lewis and the offense converted with a seven-play drive early in the fourth quarter, capped by the quarterback’s first of two rushing scores measuring at 11 and 5 yards.
Senior Austin Smith picked off Frazier for a second time midway through the fourth to setup Eastern Hancock’s final scoring drive, which ate up nearly three minutes off the clock.
The Royals only other shutout this season was against Wes-Del at home on Ed Knarr Field 42-0 on Oct. 2. Eastern Hancock has allowed just 14.3 points per game this season.
“The great thing is we didn’t play great, but we won the game,” O’Hara said. “We’ve done that before, and despite the mental mistakes, it’s nice to have a shutout. It’s only our second of the year and we beat a really good team.”