By ELIZABETH KANIPE
After a week off, the undefeated Radford Bobcats traveled down Route 8 to take on Floyd County. Floyd County’s only loss came against Christiansburg in their first game of the season. The winner would take the lead in the race for the Three Rivers District Championship.
Floyd kicked the opening kickoff out of bounds and Radford took over at their own 40 yard line. The Bobcats wasted no time taking to the air. Landen Clark hit Max Kanipe at the 35 yard line and Kanipe turned up the sideline into the end zone but referees marked it out of bounds at the 9 yard line. On the next snap Clark ran up the middle to score, just 58 seconds into the game.
Floyd County would take to the ground with a drive that took 16 plays and over 10 minutes off the clock before scoring. Trevor Miller got most of the carries in the drive. QB Rylan Swortzel connected with his brother Kaiden for an important third down conversion and then again from 17 yards out to even the score with 57 seconds left in the first quarter.
Radford wasted little time in scoring again after another Floyd County kick went out of bounds. David Woodward gained 16 yards on his first carry. Then Clark hit Woodward in the flats where he took it 35 yards to the 14 yard line. A Floyd County unsportsmanlike penalty moved it to the 7. Clark then hit a wide open Marcell Baylor across the middle to put Radford ahead 14-7 just 5 seconds into the second quarter.
On their next possession, the Buffaloes only took 9 plays to score. Again, Miller took most of the carries in this drive. On 4th and 2, Swortzel kept the ball on a quarterback draw and rambled 29 yards to even the game at 14 points a piece. After another kickoff that went out of bounds, the Bobcats started a 9 play drive of their own to take back the lead. Clark finished the drive after hitting Parker Prioleau who made a great move to score from 13 yards out. The Bobcats led 21-14 with 4:53 left in the half.
The Bobcats quickly got a chance to extend the lead. Swortzel’s option pitch went over the head of Miller and Radford’s Isiah Austin pounced on the ball giving Radford the ball at the Buffalo 36 yard line. Floyd County’s defense held, forcing the Bobcats to punt. Both defenses were starting to figure out how to stop the other offense. The half ended with Radford ahead 21-14.
Floyd received the opening kickoff and started another long drive. The Bobcats finally stopped the Buffaloes drive when Andrew Moore forced a fumble and Zeb Martin recovered at their own 19 yard line. Radford gained one first down but after three incomplete passes, they punted back to Floyd. Radford then held Floyd and forced them to punt. The punt ended up at the Radford 6 yard line but the Buffaloes were flagged for holding and were forced to punt again. This time the snap went through the punter’s legs and rolled all the way to the 14 where Radford took over. On the first play Clark ran up the middle and got close to the end zone before fumbling into the endzone where Floyd recovered for a touchback – an opportunity lost for Radford.
The Buffaloes were able to gain one first down but the Bobcat defense held to force a punt. The Bobcats took over at their own 36 yard line. Clark hit Kanipe for an 11 yard gain. Then Woodward ran for 16 yards. Clark hit Baylor in the flats and he made several defenders miss to score from 37 yards out to extend the Radford lead to 28-14 with 59 seconds left in the third quarter.
Radford got another chance to extend the lead after Prioleau blocked the Floyd punt. The Bobcats took over at the Floyd 42 yard line. The drive got to the red zone but stalled after a couple of penalties forced a fourth and long where Clark’s pass fell incomplete forcing a turnover on downs.
Floyd seized the momentum and drove the ball down the field. Runs by Miller and Emery Chaffin got the ball past midfield. The Buffaloes finished the drive when QB Swortzel hit Kaiden Swortzel for an 11 yard touchdown with 4:45 left in the game. Floyd attempted an onside kick and recovered it after the ball bounced off a Radford player at the 49 yard line. With momentum on their side, Floyd started handing the ball off to Miller who got the ball to the red zone seven plays into the drive. Time started to become a factor. Another Miller run got the ball to the 11 yard line with 40 seconds left. On fourth and seven, the Swortzels connected again to the 7 yard line giving Floyd first and goal with 29 seconds left. A Miller run got to the 6 yard line with 24 seconds left. Floyd scored when the Swortzels connected yet again to make the score 28-27 with 14 seconds left. Momentum on their side, Floyd decided to go for 2 to win the game. QB Swortzel kept the ball on a power run to the left but was stopped short when Sam Khandan-Barani and David Woodward broke through and brought Swortzel to the ground.
Floyd still had one shot to recover another onside kick. This time the loose ball was recovered by Radford’s Kanipe to seal the Radford victory and remain undefeated. Clark passed 13 for 23 for 205 yards and 3 TDs. He needed just 107 yards to break the full season yardage record held by Ken Alderman from the 1972 season. Clark also rushed for 87 yards on 6 carries and 1 TD. Woodward ran for 49 yards on 12 carries. He also caught 3 passes for 57 yards. Kanipe had 4 receptions for 76 yards. Baylor finished with 3 catches for 43 yards and 2 TDs.
Radford (8-0) will return home to play Glenvar on Friday, October 28th at Bobcat Stadium. This night will be Sandlot night to celebrate the youth football teams. There also will be a 50th anniversary celebration of the 1972 undefeated State Champion Bobcat team.