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Eagles sent home

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River sees hopes dashed by Harrisonburg

By Mike Forster

  Snarled traffic on I-81 caused difficulties for the Staunton River faithful in their quest to reach Harrisonburg.

But that was nothing, compared with what the team faced on the field.

The Golden Eagles saw their golden season come to a close, as they were knocked out of the Region III playoff hunt by the Blue Streaks.

Harrisonburg took advantage of some early River miscues in building up a 24-0 halftime lead.  The Streaks rode that momentum to a 45-13 win in front of a slight home crowd.

The tone for this one was set when Staunton River fumbled on its first play from scrimmage.

Harrisonburg’s Josh Scott pounced on the loose ball on the River 25 yard line.

On the Streaks’ first play from scrimmage, quarterback Jake Johnson tossed a 22-yard completion to Connor Wolfe.

On the next play, Michael Holmes bulled his way in from three yards out.

With 47 clicks of the game clock gone, Harrisonburg led 7-0.

On River’s next possession, it coughed up the ball on its second play.  This time, Corbin Whitelow hauled it in for the Streaks on the River 32.

Solid stops by Bobby Hobbs, Brian Ellis, Brandon Adkins and Solomon McCullough limited the Streaks to a field goal attempt.

Connor Floros nailed the 28 yarder for a 10-0 lead.

Things seemed to be settling down, with both teams’ defenses limiting their foes to three-and-outs.

The Eagle defense was especially strong in limiting Harrisongburg’s Escalade of a back, Michael Holmes, to very short bursts.

What it had trouble with was Johnson.

Toward the end of the first quarter, the lanky quarterback took off on a 21-yard dash, to move his team out of the shadow of its own goal posts.

Two plays later, he launched a 55-yard touchdown toss to Salim Charles, for the 17-0 lead.

“Their quarterback ran it and threw it more than we thought he would,” said River Head Coach Chuck Poston.

With Harrisonburg, you pick your poison.  

Holmes is All-World.  River rightly put some focus on him and, as a result, put a lot of helmets on him.

In fact, the Eagles limited him to 68 yards on 21 carries.  Those are nearly unthinkable numbers.

Harrisonburg, however, showed it is no one-trick pony.

Johnson threw for 141 yards.  Terrence Hearn had a 50-yard dash.  And the Streak defense showed it is the equal to any in the region.

In fact, while River did amass 333 rushing yards, the H-Burg D was stout when it most needed to be, particularly in the first half..

Fittingly, River’s two touchdowns came on long jaunts by Cody Jones and Meech Coles.

Jones’s tally was on a 70-yard cruise; Coles scored on a 66-yard sprint.

Without getting too philosophical, the long scores were symbolic of how far those two have seen the program develop over their time at Staunton River.

Still, nobody seems content with an 8-4 season, nor with a trip to the Region III semis.

“We had a good run,” said Poston.  “But, Harrisonburg...they are where we want to be.”

Poston acknowledged that the team will lose a tremendous amount of talent and experience.

He and his staff are already recruiting for next year.