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Staunton River scored the old fashioned way – with five rushing touchdowns and one through the air. And the Golden Eagles scored on defense – a 40-yard interception return and a safety. And River scored on special teams, recovering a blocked punt for another touchdown.
Friday night’s 58-12 drubbing of Patrick County by SR was a total team effort and an important win for the Golden Eagles, now 2-2, as they head into this week’s Homecoming showdown with James River.
“I’m tickled to death with how hard our kids played,” stated River head coach Chuck Poston. “I thought it was our best offensive game of the year, by far.”
After having its initial drive stall at the Cougar 27 yard line, the Staunton River defense did its job, holding Patrick County on downs after the Cougars marched down inside the SR 30 yard line. From that point on, it was all Staunton River.
The Golden Eagles took just three plays to put the first points of the night on the scoreboard. Trevian White ran for 23 yards to get the ball into Patrick County territory and two plays later River quarterback Cody Jones ran 45 yards to give his team the lead. Stephen Hardy’s PAT put the Eagles up 7-0 with 3:52 left in the first quarter. Hardy would connect on all eight of his extra point attempts in the game.
White made his presence felt on defense on the Cougars next drive, recovering a fumble at the PC 44 yard line. Meech Coles carried the workload for River on its drive with runs of 8, 16, 15 and one yard, the final for a touchdown. That would be the first of thee touchdowns Coles, who would rush for a total of 135 yards, would get in the game.
Coles said after the game that the goal will be to carry over Friday night’s effort and victory to the remaining games on the schedule. “The rest of our season should go pretty good,” he said of being able to accomplish that.
The Eagles certainly had the momentum throughout Friday’s game.
Early in the second quarter the Cougars mishandled a punt from Hardy which gave River the ball at the Patrick County 45. Six runs later, including the final four yards by Coles, the Golden Eagles had their third TD of the night and a 21-0 lead.
Poston implored his defense to put the game away with a stop on Patrick County’s next drive and the River D came close to doing just that. But on a fourth and 17 from the Golden Eagles 48 yard line, the Cougars came to life, albeit briefly, with a 29-yard pass from Jacob Reynolds to Bryce Hubbard. Reynolds would give the PC faithful some hope with a 19-yard scoring jaunt on the next play, cutting the lead to 21-6 after a failed PAT attempt.
But with 2:22 left in the half, the Golden Eagles weren’t finished.
Taking over at its own 35, SR marched to the Patrick County 48 yard line with a minute to play. Running out of its Wildcat formation, Coles took the handoff from Jarodd Nichols for a 48-yard score. But a River penalty negated the run.
No problem. On the next play, with 42 seconds left in the half, Nichols again ran the Wildcat but this time connected with Jones on a 53-yard scoring strike. River took a 28-6 lead into the break.
“That was huge,” Poston said of having his team strike back after the Cougar score. “We had practiced that (the Wildcat formation) during the week. It gave our kids confidence to know that we could come right back after giving (a score) up and get it back.”
The second half would provide much of the same, with the Golden Eagle defense playing stout and scoring some points of its own.
On its first drive of the third quarter, following a three and out by the Cougars, Coles scored his third touchdown of the game, this one a five-yard run, to put the Eagles up 35-6 midway through the quarter.
The defense then got into the scoring act on Patrick County’s next drive. Brian Ellis intercepted Cougar quarterback Jalen Reynolds’ pass at the PC 40-yard line and returned it for a touchdown. SR 42, PC 6.
Then River’s special teams weighed in with a score of their own. The Golden Eagle D held the Cougars to just two yards on the ensuing drive and on a fourth and eight from its own 22, Patrick County attempted to punt but Jarod Alston blocked it and Solomon McCullough recovered it in the end zone for a SR touchdown and a 49-6 lead.
The Golden Eagle D would again stiffen and Cougar quarterback Jarod Wright, facing a third and 25 from his own three-yard line, was tackled in the end zone for a safety and a 51-6 lead for the Eagles.
On its next drive, the Golden Eagles needed only three plays to add to that lead with Chris Tyree scoring from one yard out. Jarrett Moon did the bulk of the work on the drive, carrying twice for 39 yards.
The Cougars were able to put one final scoring drive together, a six-play, 76-yard march that ended with a 30-yard touchdown run by Wright. After a missed PAT, that closed out the scoring 58-12, as time ran out.
For the game River piled up 350 total yards of offense, including 283 rushing, while the Golden Eagle D gave up just 210 yards to the Cougars. The Eagles averaged almost nine yards per play for the game.
Poston said last week’s practice was the key to the win. “It’s good for our kids to know that when we do things well in practice, good things are going to happen on Friday night,” he said.
The players agreed, noting that the scout team had pushed them hard in last week’s practice. “It’s good motivation going into Homecoming,” senior quarterback Cody Jones said of Friday’s victory. “We have to just keep our focus and work harder than we did this past week.”
Poston expects a tough James River team to show up Friday. “James River has a good quarterback, they throw the ball well,” he said. “We’re going to have to have a good week of practice.”
That means continuing to emphasize coverage and tackling well, while doing what the Eagle offense was able to do well this week – controlling the line of scrimmage and ball control.