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That was a big-boy win.
Staunton River showed poise and aggression in taking it to cross-county rival Jefferson Forest, 21-7.
It was the team’s first win in the Chuck Poston era, and it was the biggest win since last season’s victory over Patrick County.
That win broke an extensive Eagle losing streak.
This win could be the foundation for some major things.
Staunton River took the opening kickoff, and quarterback Cody Jones set up shop.
He led the Eagles on a 12-yard drive that featured: a couple of scrambles by Jones, a pass interference call against JF and a lot of runs by Meech Coles.
The last of these was a 10- yard scamper by Coles off left tackle. Stephen Hardy’s PAT gave the Eagles a 7-0 lead.
It was a lead that would never be relinquished.
Rather, it appeared it might be doubled, particularly when JF fumbled away Hardy’s ensuing kickoff.
The Cav defense, however, rose to the occasion, with key stops by Cody Gehman and Dakota Abbott. Hardy’s field goal attempt, from 41 yards out, fell just short.
With the Forest offense having a tough time getting on track, the teams traded punts.
Midway through the second quarter, though, Coles struck again.
After his 12-yard plunge up the gut, Coles went left again, rambling 36 yards for a 14-0 edge.
It stayed that way through the start of the fourth quarter.
That’s when things started to go JF’s way.
A Staunton River fumble was scooped up by John Ayers, who brought it to the Staunton River 27-yard line.
From there, Ayers (now quarterbacking), led a quick drive that ended with Ryan Gingrich hugging the ball in the end zone. The Cavs showed that they have some moxie, as that 13-yard score came on a fourth-and-goal play.
Two plays after receiving the ensuing kickoff, Staunton River fumbled in almost the exact same spot.
“I was fine (at that point),” said SR’s Poston. “I knew our defense was playing well.”
Poston’s faith was rewarded, even as JF took over on the River 30-yard line.
From there, Ayers went for quick paydirt, launching a beautiful pass toward (6’ 1”) Dominique Royal in the end zone.
River defensive back Jarodd Nichols (5’ 8”), however, stretched every millimeter in his frame to break up the pass and negate the touchdown.
Denied, the Cavs faced another do-or-die. This time, the fourth-and-long situation wouldn’t pan out for JF, as Brian Ellis and Sean Hogan teamed up to sack Ayers and give the ball back to the Eagles.
Starting on their own 28-yard line, Jones moved his team to payolla in seven plays.
Undoubtedly, the Eagle cause was aided by a pair of 15-yard penalties against the Cavs.
The coup d’ grace came on Coles 19-yard scamper.
On this one, the senior started right, then cut back against the grain, defying the Cavs.
With a 14 point lead, the Eagle defenders began to tee off on the Cavs. In particular, Ayers was pummelled.
In fact, during the Cavs’ final two offensive sets, the quarterback was sacked four times in six plays.
Hogan, the noseguard, was playing like a man possessed.
Some who got in on the sacking included Ja-Rod Alston and Brandon Adkins, among others.
“They were like sharks with blood in the water,” enthused Poston. “Our kids had fun tonight.”
Indeed. Added linebacker Ellis, “Any play where you can get to the quarterback is fun.”
In viewing the win, Staunton River defensive back Bobby Hobbs was sanguine. “This is a big step for us,” he noted.
Indeed, this is but the second time this century that the Eagles have topped JF.
-Coles rushed for 150 yards while Forest’s net rushing total was null.
-One bright spot for the Cavs was that their passing game, which was nonexistent last week, caught fire. Ayers, could be effective when not under big pressure.
He completed five passes for 175 yards. His best weapons seemed to be the deep pass to Royal and a quick seam-buster to Mikey Wallman out of the backfield.
-Penalties were big in this one. JF was flagged 10 times for 140 yards.
-Turnovers didn’t help, either. In addition to a pair of fumbles, JF yielded three interceptions. Those nabs were made by Jones, Hobbs and Jarrett Moon.