Trojans’ effort valiant, but Phoebus ends New Kent’s playoff run
Making its first appearance since 2003, New Kent traveled Interstate 64 eastbound to take on the Phoebus Phantoms, the Hampton team that has won seven state titles. In a match that heavily favored the hosting Phantoms at Darling Stadium, the Trojans provided a tough contest Saturday afternoon.
But that effort by the visitors couldn’t overcome a much more experienced playoff team as Phoebus ended New Kent’s season 28-16 in the opening round of the Group 3A Region A playoffs.
With the Phantoms unfamiliar with New Kent’s style of play, the Trojans struck on the opening drive. Evan Branch scooted 34 yards to put the ball in Phoebus’ territory. On the next play, Trojan back Adam Cable rumbled up the middle 40 yards, running over one defender and into the end zone to provide New Kent an early 7-0 advantage less than three minutes into first quarter.
Phoebus bounced back from the visitors opening score, using a methodical drive that was capped off by Anthony Turner’s three-yard run. On the opening drive of the second quarter, Phantom signal caller John Tucker connected with wide receiver Barry Hargraves on a 60-yard strike to give the hosts a 14-7 lead moments into the period.
New Kent began a strategy to utilize the clock to keep Phoebus’ high-powered offense off the field. And despite burning a substantial amount of time, that didn’t keep the Phantoms from striking again. Tucker connected with Latrelle Smith on a 23-yard touchdown connection to up the hosts’ advantage to 21-7.
But the Trojans were able to pull closer just before the halftime intermission. With 53 seconds remaining, New Kent quarterback Brody Smith connected with Joe Allen on a 37-yard pass for a score to cut the deficit to seven (21-14) at the break.
Defense dominated the second half of the game, forcing New Kent to take a lot of chances to get back into the game. On fourth and long in the third quarter, Smith was intercepted by Thailand Baldwin. The result on the stop would eventually lead to Turner rumbling for 50 yards for the Phantoms to double-up the Trojans (28-14).
New Kent marched down the field in the fourth quarter, getting the ball down to the Phantoms’ one-yard line. But an unsuccessful sneak by Smith returned the pigskin to the Phoebus. The hosts elected to take a safety at the end of the contest to run off the remaining time on the clock in the game.
Although saddened by the defeat, New Kent head coach John Fulks said that he was glad his team held their heads high and went toe to toe with a great football team.
“We knew we were down three defensive starters today, but we came out and hit them in the mouth scoring first,” he said, pointing to the injuries of Wyatt Terry, Jacob Terry, and Hayden Smith. “Unfortunately, we had some miscues that they took advantage of those.
“I am proud of the effort we got today,” Fulks continued. “I hope we can build off this momentum going into 2019 as we have a lot of school pride and tremendous excitement for the future of this program.”
Branch and Cable rushed for 89 and 79 yards, respectively. Smith completed seven passes for 93 yards and finished the season with over 1,000 yards through the air.
New Kent concludes its campaign with a record of 6-5.