Published 4:28 pm Thursday, September 8, 2011
The schedule doesn't get any easier for the Prince Edward County High School football team this week, as the Eagles (0-2) travel to Red Clay Country for their annual non-district contest against Buckingham. The Knights have out-scored PECHS 96-27 in their last two meetings, including a 47-13 victory last year in Farmville.
Buckingham (1-0), which was open last Friday, proved that it was just as potent offensively in its season-opening 48-31 victory over Appomattox as it was in 2010. Defensively – though the Raiders' option attack will pose problems for almost every team on its schedule – the Knights do have some concerns. Prior to the season opener, the last time Buckingham gave up more than 30 points to a regular-season opponent was in 2008 – a 35-14 loss to Prince Edward.
Offensively, it took Buckingham only three plays to score against Appomattox. Senior quarterback Tarian Ayers was 12-21 passing for 165 yards and two interceptions – one a desperation sack-avoiding heave that was picked off and returned for a touchdown. That's a lesson most quarterbacks don't have to learn twice. On a fully-healed ankle that gave him trouble all season in 2010, he also showed his threat as a double-threat quarterback with 14 rushes for 73 yards and four touchdowns.
Freshman tailback Kyree Koonce showed his explosive potential in the backfield with 92 yards on six carries, including a 68-yard touchdown run.
Not wanting to give a PE squad full of athletes a chance to build any confidence, expect the Knights, who have won 15 games in a row at home (their last home defeat was a 28-7 loss to Nelson County on September 5, 2008), to go for the early knock-out punch.
Prince Edward has had trouble putting together two halves. The Eagles played a solid second half against Fluvanna in Week One, and a solid first half in last week's 26-13 loss to Cumberland. If not for two turnovers on their first possessions in the first and third quarters that set up easy Cumberland scores, and another inside the CHS ten-yard-line in the fourth quarter, last week's result could've been entirely different.
Prince Edward junior quarterback Tavon Adams showed he has the ability to both pass and run last Friday by going 6-13 passing for 89 yards and rushing five times for 41 yards and both touchdowns against the Dukes. On the ground, Jakeem Eddins and Ralick Lockett combined to rush for 197 yards, so PE did show that it can pick up yardage.
Prince Edward displayed its big-play ability several times. But the Eagles also showed that it has trouble finishing off drives that reach the red zone. It's a trait that teams at their stage of development routinely show. It's a big “if”, but “if” Prince Edward can learn how to finish off those drives, they've got plenty of weapons to keep up with any team on a given Friday night.
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Cumberland @ Appomattox 7 p.m.
Appomattox is 1-1 in the James River District – regarded by many to be the toughest Group A district in the state. Only problem is that the Raiders play in the Dogwood, which could also make the same claim. Following their 48-31 loss to Buckingham, the Raiders recovered quite nicely by thumping JRD newbie Nottoway County 36-20.
The Raiders evened their record on the arm and legs of senior quarterback Josh Wilson, who ran for three touchdowns and passed for another in the victory.
Following a bye week to open the season, Cumberland overcame a slow first half in last week's 26-13 victory over Prince Edward. The Dukes appeared to catch another gear toward the end of the third quarter in their new “I” formation package. Cumberland pushed the ball down the field in small, but consistent chunks to wear down their guests.
If the Dukes can replicate their second-half performance against Prince Edward, they have a good shot at picking up a road victory. Cumberland will have to do so without the services of senior standout receiver Rashawn Sims. He injured his knee in last week's game against Prince Edward, and there is no concrete time table on his return.
Against Prince Edward, Cumberland quarterback Devonta Booker was 7-12 passing for 127 yards. He also rushed six times for 41 yards and a touchdown. Justus Dowdy rushed for 64 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The CHS defense recovered three Prince Edward fumbles and shutout the Eagles in the second half.
With the option offense of Appomattox and the Power “I” of Cumberland, time of possession will be a key stat, but both teams also possess big play ability. Neither team can afford to have a drive stall inside the 20. The team that does is likely not to see the ball again for the remainder of the quarter.
Hampden-Sydney meets North Carolina Wesleyan for the fourth time on Saturday when the Tigers take the short trip to Rocky Mount, NC for their second of three meetings against USA South teams this season. Hampden-Sydney has won all three of the previous contests, but the games have been close.
In last season's home opener, H-SC had to hold on for a 21-19 victory over the Battling Bishops at home. The Tigers had no trouble moving the ball, but five interceptions by the hosts kept the Battling Bishops in the contest. Kirk Rohle led the Tigers with 144 yards on offense, while Sean Cavanagh had 12 catches for 154 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
NC Wesleyan was led by Jordan Vann, who passed for 238 yards and rushed for a team-high 47, including a touchdown.
Last week, H-SC had no trouble moving the ball behind senior quarterback Travis Lane. He tossed for 273 yards and three touchdowns. Rohle accounted for 183 yards as the Tigers cruised to a 63-9 victory over Averett that drew a national mention on Steve Czaban's morning show in a segment where he highlights lopsided scores in non-Division-I games.
As a team, H-SC amassed 578 yards of total offense, with 339 coming through the air. Defensively, the Tigers, who didn't allow a touchdown until the final minute of the contest, were led by senior Mark Poydence, who had seven tackles, and three tackles-for-loss.
NC Wesleyan lost to 14th-ranked Ohio Northern 38-20 on the road last week. Sophomore quarterback John Jackson had 197 yards passing, but threw two interceptions for touchdowns.
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