DALEVILLE — Two facts were made abundantly clear about Lord Botetourt High’s football team during its win over Bluefield.
The first was there is quality depth and versatility on the roster. The second was the Cavaliers are not easily frightened on Friday the 13th or any other night.
With its top two players sidelined with injuries and having surrendered the go-ahead touchdown 41 seconds short of halftime, Lord Botetourt staged a second- half comeback behind backup quarterback James-Ryan Salvi, a precision passing game and a near-impenetrable defense.
The result was a 20-14 win over visiting Bluefield, the No. 1-ranked team in West Virginia’s AA ranks.
“We don’t worry about getting behind,” Lord Botetourt coach Jamie Harless said. “With 48 minutes in a game, you have to keep playing.”
Salvi took over when star quarterback Evan Eller went down in the first half, returned to action briefly, before retiring for good with an injured knee. Harless said he was told by medical personnel the knee was “stable” and an MRI will occur Saturday for further information.
“I’m going to be OK,” said Eller later after returning on crutches to join banged up top running back Hunter Rice on the sidelines for the second half. “As soon as I went down, I knew my team would have my back.”
The Cavaliers (3-0) had led 7-0 in the first quarter when Eller connected with receiver Kyle Arnholt, who made a fine leaping catch to complete a 35-yard TD.
The Beavers responded with two unanswered second-quarter scores, both from strong-armed quarterback Carson Deeb to Jahiem House, who made a couple of great plays.
The first involved the receiver winning a jump-ball reception in the far corner of the left-hand side of the end zone that covered 11 yards. The second was a 40-yard snatch and run that happened with stunning swiftness.
“I’m proud of quarterback Carson Deeb because he played hard and got hit a lot,” Beavers coach Freddy Simon said. “He did a fine job with a sophomore center who had to come into the game. I can’t fault our players’ effort.”
Deeb showed some resilience himself, overcoming five sacks to complete 15 of 28 passes for 163 yards. The Cavaliers kept his team out of the end zone in the second half, though.
“We spend hours a day to get ready for any situation,” said Arnholt, who filled in at safety when Eller went down. “That really helped us out.”
Salvi missed his first four passes and gave up a second half interception, but was zeroed in when it counted. On the opening drive of the second half, he completed 3 of his first four passes, all to the Arnholt on completions of 8, 13, and 18 yards.
Running back Dylan Wade capped the initial 80-yard march with a 3-yard plunge that tied the score.
The clinching TD was something to behold, with Arnholt grabbing a tipped football and racing 37 yards to the end zone. Arnholt, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound junior, had six catches for 106 yards.
“The conversation at halftime was, you know, you have to step up because you’ve been in this position before,” Salvi said. “It’s going to have to be a team effort and we’re all going to have to work together.”