Eagles pull away to rout Cumberland

Published 4:15 am Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Prince Edward County High School varsity football team went 2-0 this week, following up its 40-6 blowout of visiting Amelia County High School on Monday with a 41-13 victory Friday night over a key rival in visiting Cumberland High School.

“That’s a big confidence booster for us,” Eagles senior running back Brandon Scott said of the big wins. “We want to win out so we get to the playoffs, so we’re feeling really good right now.”

With the victory over the Dukes, the Eagles improve to .500 on the season.

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“This one was a little closer than Monday, and it feels good to come out and the offense put it together,” Prince Edward Head Coach James Ford said. “It took us to the second half to do so, and we stopped shooting ourselves in the foot. But once we started clicking, offensively and defensively, we played very well. It feels really good to score 81 points in two games — that’s impressive.”

The Dukes and Eagles took turns giving each other extra opportunities on offense at different points in what seemed destined to be a scoreless first half Friday.

But then Cumberland senior Brandon Leabough found senior James Booker behind the Prince Edward defense for a 32-yard touchdown pass to give the Dukes a 6-0 lead with 4:23 left in the first half.

The Eagles responded quickly, with senior Brandon Scott fueling the drive with key rushes and capping it off with a 7-yard touchdown run. His 2-point conversion run did not reach the end zone, however, leaving the score tied 6-6 with 2:11 left in the second quarter.

Senior Trey Wright gave Prince Edward another possession before halftime when he recorded an interception with 43.1 seconds remaining, but a block in the back penalty moved the Eagles back near their own goal line, and they could not translate the turnover into points.

Prince Edward needed only two minutes and three seconds at the start of the third quarter, however, to go ahead 14-6. Senior Joel Thomas connected with senior Bryan Moses for a 43-yard touchdown pass, and Scott ran in the 2-point conversion.

The Eagles defense, which was strong for most of the evening, forced Cumberland to punt on its next possession. Scott was the key contributor on the ensuing drive, capping it off with a 10-yard scoring run to make the score 20-6 with 7:23 left in the quarter.

The Dukes’ struggles on offense continued, and so did Scott’s big night. With 2:46 remaining in the third, Scott ran for a 52-yard touchdown, then ran and dove in for the 2-point conversion, making it 28-6.

For the game, he had 25 carries for 279 yards and three touchdowns. He gave credit to his offensive line for his success.

“I tell them to take care of me, and we’ll take care of the scoreboard,” he said.

Prince Edward built its lead to 34-6 with 8:09 left in the game when Thomas completed a 17-yard touchdown pass to junior Aneal Walker.

Thomas ended up 7-for-12 passing for 111 yards and two touchdowns. Moses had four catches for 72 yards and a score, and Walker had two catches for 21 yards and a touchdown.

A second interception by Wright with 7:44 remaining helped set up an eventual 12-yard scoring run by senior Ira Walker.

“The whole defense, starters and the guys who came in late — those guys were lights out,” Ford said. “Played tremendous.”

Eagle senior Markeem Trent recorded nine total tackles and three sacks, senior Rajai Walton had nine total tackles and one fumble recovery, sophomore J’Sean Dupuy registered eight total tackles, including one for loss, and Wright had three total tackles, two interceptions and one pass defended.

Despite the big deficit, Cumberland maintained some competitive fire and scored in the final minutes of the game on a 54-yard touchdown run by senior De’Suan Jennings.

It was the tale of two halves for the Dukes.

“The first-half defensive performance I was very pleased with,” Cumberland Head Coach Edgar Knapp said. “We played up to what our capabilities are throughout that first half.”

For the game, Dukes senior Kaleb Boyles had 10 total tackles, seven solos, three assists and two for a loss, and a sack. Junior Darron Ridley produced nine total tackles, five solos and four assists.

“I was obviously not as pleased offensively,” Knapp said. “We continue to be pretty challenged offensively.”

The Dukes generated only 189 yards.

Leabough was 5-for-25 passing for 54 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. While he kept the defense honest with his legs, he struggled to find running room, gaining only 15 yards on 10 carries.

Jennings led the ground game with 19 carries for 94 yards and a score, while Booker finished with three catches for 49 yards and a touchdown.

Next Friday at 7 p.m., the Dukes (1-6) host Atlantic Shores Christian School (6-1), while the Eagles (4-4) visit Randolph-Henry High School (1-6).