Landstown scores twice in final frame to end Franklin County's season

Franklin County junior Jayron Smith (No. 10) breaks away from two Hidden Valley defenders during a 31-14 regular-season triumph over the Titans at C.I. (Cy) Dillon Stadium-Fred M. Brown Memorial Field. Smith has surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark in each of his two varsity campaigns.

VIRGINIA BEACH — Carlton Winston rushed for two, fourth-quarter touchdowns Friday night as No. 4 seed Landstown stymied an upset bid by No. 5 seed Franklin County and defeated the Eagles, 35-27, in the quarterfinals of the Class 6 Region A football playoffs at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex.

The seeds in Class 6 Region A held true as each of the top four squads in the eight-team regional advanced.

With the win, Landstown (8-3) moves on to a semifinal-round match-up against No. 1 seed Oscar Smith, a 60-0 quarterfinal-round winner over No. 8 seed Western Branch.

Also in Friday’s quarterfinals, No. 2 seed Ocean Lakes bested No. 7 seed Cosby, 28-12, and No. 3 seed Thomas Dale defeated No. 6 seed Grassfield, 55-28.

Franklin County’s season, its fifth under the direction of head coach J.R. Edwards, ends with the setback.

Each of the five teams that defeated the Eagles (6-5) advanced in postseason play: Landstown in Class 6, Salem and E.C.Glass in Class 4 and Northside and Lord Botetourt in Class 3.

FCHS, which was playing its 13th postseason game in program history, was attempting to advance in the playoffs for a second straight year.

The Eagles are 4-9 in postseason play with quarterfinal-round setbacks in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2017 and 2019 and semifinals-round losses in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2018.

Friday’s contest was tied at 7 after the first quarter, at 14 at halftime and at 21 after three periods. The Eagles held leads of 7-0, 14-7 and 21-14, but Landstown was able to equal the count each time.

FCHS broke the stalemate at 21 with 7:45 left when Jayon Smith rushed for a 22-yard touchdown, but the Eagles point-after-touchdown (PAT) attempt was blocked.

Landstown took the lead for good when Winston found the end zone from 22 yards followed by a successful PAT.

Winston’s third TD came on a 72-yard run following an Eagles’ punt with four minutes remaining.

Winston, who rushed for 209 yards, scored all three of his TDs after intermission. His first, in the third period, covered 63 yards.

In the opening half, FCHS scored on a 26-yard pass hook-up between quarterback Joshua Luckett and on a 41-yard run by Smith, while Landstown rushed for one TD and passed for a second.

Freshman Jahylen Lee scored on a one-yard run for the Eagles in the third frame.

Smith rushed for 208 yards and his performance makes him a 1,000-yard rusher for the second straight year. Despite missing three games, he surpassed the rushing milestone with the aid of two 200-plus yards outings.

Smith’s 208 yards are two shy of the program’s single-game playoff record set by former standout Tae Gilbert in the Eagles’ 37-35 Group AAA Northwest Region Division 6 quarterfinal-round win over Colonial Forge in 2009, the Eagles’ first postseason triumph after their three previous setbacks.

Both teams ran 48 plays from scrimmage, Landstown produced 294 rushing yards and 97 more through the air for a total of 391.

The majority of FCHS’s 308 yards were accumulated via the rush as Smith and Lee accounted for all of its 271 yards on the ground. Luckett was 2 of 8 passing for 37 yards. He was intercepted twice.

Five of the Blue Ridge’s six teams qualified for postseason play and three advanced: William Fleming in Class 5 and Lord Botetourt and Northside. The Cavaliers bested league rival William Byrd in the quarterfinals.

The Eagles were playing a team from the eastern part of the state for the first time since 1989.

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