GALAX — The weather conditions may have been less than ideal for those in attendance at the Region 1C title game on Saturday, but they seemed to suit Galax running back Denver Brown just fine.
With a steady rain falling throughout the contest, Brown scored on touchdown runs of 14, 63, 90 and 98 yards as he finished with 317 rushing yards leading the Maroon Tide to a convincing 52-6 win over George Wythe in the regional final at Galax High School.
Galax (12-1) returns to the VHSL Class 1 state semifinals for the fifth straight season where it will hit the road to take on undefeated PH-Glade Spring squad next Saturday. The Maroon Tide’s season came to an end in last year’s Class 1 state semifinals with a 28-7 loss to Chilhowie.
Brown, a senior, wasted little time getting his big day started on Saturday. He scampered 67 yards on the turf at Galax’s home field on the Maroon Tide’s third play from scrimmage for a score to make it 7-0 at the 10:33 mark of the opening quarter.
“I’d play in any type of weather. I just came out and did my job,” Brown said of the conditions. “It does help, though, with the turf. On grass it would get muddy and slick.”
The constant rain, however, did seem to affect the George Wythe offense early on as Maroon quarterback Cole Simmons lost fumbles on GW’s first two drives that were recovered by the Galax defense.
“[The weather] didn’t affect our game plan. We just didn’t execute well,” George Wythe coach Brandon Harner said. “The rain didn’t help Cole, and we had a couple of bad snaps. Against a team like Galax, that’s all she wrote.”
While Galax didn’t take advantage of Simmons’ first fumble, the Maroon Tide scored after Simmons lost the ball at the GW 4 midway through the first.
Three plays after the turnover Galax quarterback Cole Pickett scored on a 2-yard sneak to make it 14-0 with 6:20 left in the quarter.
While George Wythe (9-3) did come back from a two-touchdown first quarter deficit last week against Narrows, there was no repeat performance on the docket.
Brown scored his second touchdown of the day on a 14-yard run with 1:46 still left in the first to make it 21-0, but his best run of the quarter was yet to come.
After a 51-yard George Wythe punt backed the Maroon Tide up to its own 10-yard line, Brown busted loose up the middle on a 90-yard touchdown run on the final play of the first to make it 28-0, finishing the first 12 minutes with 206 yards on the ground.
“[The players] did what they had to do,” Galax coach Mark Dixon said of his offense’s ability to create big plays. “They had to bring everybody up and when we had a crack, we were able to get behind them.”
The Maroon Tide continued to hold the momentum through the second quarter, scoring an additional 17 points to go into halftime with a 45-0 lead.
With a running clock going in the second half, Brown capped off his huge day scoring on a 98-yard touchdown run with 8:33 left in the fourth to make it 52-0.
George Wythe avoided the shutout on a trick play when receiver Dayson McMillian took a handoff on an end around and promptly threw a 40-yard TD pass to fellow wide receiver Davion Tillison to make it 52-6 with 3:52 left in the game.
“I can’t be more proud of my kids,” Harner said. “One game doesn’t define us.”