SPOTSYLVANIA, VA., NOV. 20 -- Rondell Banks scored on a 51-yard run on the final play of the first half and Stephan Banks returned an interception for a touchdown early in the third quarter as Courtland defeated Salem, 21-0, in a Virginia AAA Northwestern Region Division 5 playoff game tonight at Courtland.
The fourth-ranked Cougars (10-1) advanced to next week's region championship game against E.C. Glass. Salem, which defeated Courtland in the playoffs last season, finished 8-3.
Courtland's defense held the Spartans to just 103 total yards and recorded seven quarterback sacks. Each time Salem threatened, the Cougars came up with a sack or turnover.
The game's key play may have been Rondell Banks' touchdown. Courtland led, 7-0, and called timeout with four seconds left in the first half and possession at its 49. Banks took a delayed handoff from quarterback J.C. Hall and broke into the clear at the Salem 40. He got an excellent downfield block from Jamie Tarrh and cut left. He broke another tackle at the 20 and dove into the end zone for a 14-0 lead.
"It was a good call by the coaches," said Rondell Banks, who had 125 yards on 13 carries. "They said the safety was back and the middle would be open. That's exactly what happened and that was a big momentum lift for us and a downer for them."
Stephan Banks' interception return put the game away. Salem quarterback Tim Smith rolled left and tried to complete a short pass to tight end David Sweeney. But Banks read the play perfectly, stepped in front of Sweeney and raced 75 yards down the right sideline.
Courtland won its first 11 games last year before losing to Salem in the regional final. That game was on the Cougars' minds tonight.
"I've been playing varsity for four years and I played the worst game of my life last year," said Stephan Banks. "They made us look bad on our field and we remembered that this year. We had three guys injured who came back just to play in this game. That's how important it was to us." Salem (8-3) 0 0 0 0 0 Courtland (10-1) 7 7 7 0 21
C -- Hall 3 run (McGeehan kick)
C -- R. Banks 51 run (McGeehan kick)
C -- S. Banks 75 interception return (McGeehand kick)