Minutemen pluck Eagles

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Liberty looks sharp in 41-14 win

By Mike Forster

Staunton River had no Hatfield to counter Liberty’s McCoy.

Minuteman Malcolm McCoy ran as wild as one of those West Virginia mountainmen of feud lore, scoring four touchdowns, as Liberty topped its cross-county rival, 41-14.

The win pushed Liberty to 3-0 overall, heading into its home game with Martinsville this weekend.

Staunton River fell to 0-3 overall, in absorbing its 28th consecutive loss.

“That’s the first complete game we’ve played,” noted Liberty Head Coach Chris Watts.  “We got consistency from our offense.”

“That team can play,” said Staunton River Head Coach Rick Witt following the game.  “Blacksburg and Broadway must have caught them on a bad night.”  Those two games were narrow victories by the Minutemen.

It took until the third week, but Liberty’s offense finally came together.

Unfortunately for Staunton River, the Eagles were the ones that got to see that genesis up close and personal.

Just to loosen things up, Liberty’s first play from scrimmage was a 36-yard heave from Tyler Bowyer to Anthony Reynolds.

While no points were generated in that opening drive,  Staunton River had to respect the pass.  Therefore, Bowyer ran the option with aplomb.

And, ran it he did.  His deftness, and his halfbacks’ sound feints, had the River defense befuddled.

(In fairness, your correspondent was photographing head-on action.  Even with a zoom lens, he found it nearly impossible to tell who had the ball.  Bowyer and his backs were that tricky.)

The other trickiness came in the form of Liberty reverting to the stacked-I, after running a wishbone variant earlier in the season.

The lads didn’t miss a beat.

The scoring parade started when Liberty marched 80 yards in eight plays.  McCoy put up the points when he found the end zone off a 27-yard trap play.

The Minutemen started off the second quarter with a four-play, 62-yard drive that, similarly, ended with McCoy chinging up the points.  Josh Smith’s 18-yard dash and Bowyer’s 19-yard keeper highlighted the drive.

The third Liberty touchdown came when Bowyer kept on an option around left end, carrying it in from the seven yard line.  He was set up, in large part, when Anthony Reynolds earned a first down on a fake punt.

Thomas Clark is the usual punter for Liberty.  Reynolds’s appearance, ostensibly to punt, should have put the Staunton River return team on alert.

Unfortunately for the Eagles, the play went as planned for Liberty.

Trailing 20-0, it appeared that Staunton River might head to the locker room with a manageable deficit.

Instead, what may have been the worst play of the season pushed that lead to 27.

Following a controversial roughing the punter call on Liberty, the Eagles were in business with a first-and-ten on the Liberty 40 yard line.

Quarterback Jarod Nichols stepped back to pass.  As he released the ball, he was crushed by defensive tackle Brandon Sparrow.  Two things happened:  McCoy picked off the fluttering pass to return it for a 65-yard TD, and Nichols left the game with an arm injury.  Like we said:  a bad play.

Fullback Cody Jones, who is no stranger to the quarterback position, stepped in for Nichols, but the game was out of reach by that point.

Return man Bobby Hobbs brought a brief glimmer of joy to the Eagle faithful, returning a kickoff 77 yards for the Eagles’ first score of the evening.

Bowyer and McCoy quickly brought any Eagle joy to an end when they combined on a two-play, 61-yard scoring drive after Hobbs’ heroics.

Bowyer set things up with a 39-yard ramble.  McCoy provided scoring honors for the fourth time that evening.

River halfback Meech Coles finished the evening’s scoring, doing so against the Minutemen’s second teamers.

Game notes

-Coach Watts attributes McCoy’s success to his work ethic.  “Malcolm worked really hard in the off season, lifting like crazy.”

-The crowd at the game looked to be a 50-50 split between the two teams’ fans.

-Staunton River embarks on a four week stretch of homecoming games:  three away, plus its own.