On a cold, wet day at Salem Stadium, offense was hard to come by.
But that didn't stop Altavista from winning its second state title, 21-0, over Essex in the 1A state championship game.
Juan Thornhill led the Colonels with 20 carries for 83 yards on the ground. He also completed 9-of-18 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown pass. That touchdown pass was a 19-yard connection to Demitre Maulbeck in the first quarter. Maulbeck finished with six catches for 113 yards.
Altavista gained 322 yards on offense, and the Colonels' stifling defense held Essex's pass-first attack to just 166 yards. Clydale Moon and Destin Brown ran for the Colonels' other two touchdowns. The Colonels (14-1) intercepted three passes and recovered a fumble to won their first state title since 2009.
Essex (13-2) was plagued by turnovers from the get-go. The Trojans turned the ball over on its first two plays from scrimmage. Altavista cashed in when Thornhill, the UVA recruit, hit Maulbeck in the corner of the end zone to put the Colonels up 7-0 with 8:50 left in the first quarter.
Altavista had another opportunity in the second quarter to put points on the board, but a 28-yard field goal failed.
The first half ended with Altavista threatening after a long drive. But with 15 seconds left from the 20-yard line, Thornhill’s pass was picked off by Essex’s DeAndre Baylor.
Altavista finished the opening half with 144 yards of offense, and held Essex to just 52 yards.
Altavista took a 14-0 lead with 3:37 left in the third quarter on a two-yard Destin Brown run. The play was set up by a 46-yard Thornhill to Maulbeck completion earlier in the drive, and then a 12-yard scramble by Thornhill on 4th-and-2 from the 14.
The Colonels tacked on another touchdown to start the fourth quarter. Clydale Moon galloped 19 yards up the middle to put Altavista in control, 21-0, with 10:45 left in the game.
Altavista's Kenavus Jones picked off Essex's Dominek Broaddus in the end zone with just over two minutes left to seal the Colonels' state title.
This is the second straight year Essex has lost in the state championship game.