There were signs that Oscar Smith’s long reign as the king of football in Hampton Roads was nearing an end, most notably two-point wins this season over Southeastern District foes. But nothing prepared the almost 6,000 on hand Saturday at Darling Stadium for No. 2 Phoebus’ 56-0 beatdown of the No. 1 Tigers that marked the changing of the guard.
The Phantoms (10-0) turned the battle of unbeatens into a rout by scoring on their first six possessions. Their defense — which has allowed just six points this season, none by the starters — forced the Tigers (9-1) to punt after three-and-outs on their first six possessions.
For Phoebus, the victory avenged a 42-0 loss a year ago at Oscar Smith, which saw its 33-game win streak against Hampton Roads opponents snapped. Oscar Smith (Class 6) and Phoebus (Class 3) are both defending state champions.
“Everybody doubted us,” Phoebus coach Jeremy Blunt told his team afterward. “Everything you came out here and did today, we know you could do.
“We knew what time it is and now we’re here.”
The game featured an afternoon for the ages by Phantoms wide receiver Jordan Bass, a Pittsburgh recruit. Bass, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound senior, caught four passes from quarterback Nolan James (7-for-7 passing, 219 yards, five touchdowns) for scores of 35, 21, 33 and 63 yards. He also ran for a 6-yard touchdown in addition to netting 36 yards on two punt returns.
“It was pretty fun, excellent,” Bass said of his big afternoon. “We came out with more confidence, with a chip on our shoulders and executed better against them this year.”
The first possession for each team defined the game. On the Tigers’ first play from scrimmage, Phantoms defensive end Anthony Reddick beat a block to drop running back Isaac Huffman for a 2-yard loss. Two plays later, Mychal McMullin pressured Tigers QB Cade Cox into an incompletion, forcing a punt that Bass returned 23 yards to the Oscar Smith 35.
With three first-half sacks (four total), and a near-miss, McMullin, a James Madison recruit, led a Phoebus defense that limited the Tigers to just 14 yards the first two quarters.
“I’ve had great games before, but never against a great team like Smith,” McMullin said.
On the first play after Bass’ punt return, Ty’Reon Taylor broke a tackle and ran 35 yards for a touchdown to give the Phantoms a 7-0 lead. Taylor would run for 121 of his 136 yards in the first half, including a 49-yard touchdown.
But his performance wasn’t only overshadowed, it was solar-eclipsed by Bass, whose 34-yard TD reception that made it 13-0 was highlight-reel stuff. Amid tight coverage from Damon Etheridge, he bobbled the ball falling backward to the ground, but still held onto it.
His second touchdown was impressive, too. The Phantoms went for it on fourth-and-1 at the Tigers’ 21, but instead of running for the first down, James threw to Bass on a slant. Bass spun out of a tackle attempt upon catching the ball at the 12 and ran to the end zone to make it 20-0.
His next touchdown catch was his most spectacular. Bass leaped high at the back of the end zone, hauling in a bomb from James while keeping his feet inside the end zone as he was pushed to the ground by Etheridge. The 33-yard score made it 27-0 with 9:38 left in the first half.
Keyontae Gray had a similarly spectacular leaping catch for 41 yards to set up Bass’ third-quarter touchdown run. McMullin, Reddick, Jalen Hayes, Zayveon Rogers and Taysean Stevenson continued their dominance on the defensive front in the second half as the Phantoms posted their sixth shutout of the season.
“We had to come out and set the tone from the first play of the game,” Reddick said. “We knew how the game was going to go after that.
“We have the best defense in the state.”
Oscar Smith coach Chris Scott said his team will refocus with an eye on a third consecutive state title.
“We’ll get back to being 1-0,” he said. “Whether you lose one by 56 or win by 56, the task is the same.
“Today is a good piece of humble pie that puts us back to the drawing board of making sure we get back there by taking care of the little things.”