Eagles pull away to top Dukes

Published 12:30 am Saturday, September 9, 2017

Prince Edward County High School’s varsity football team recovered from a slow start Friday night and wore down visiting Cumberland County High School to pull away for a 48-19 win, achieving its first 3-0 start since 2007.

In the first seven minutes of the game, it looked like the Dukes had a strong chance of ending the Eagles’ winning start to 2017. Cumberland’s Darius Kyle ran for a one-yard touchdown, and then Christian Allen intercepted a Prince Edward pass and returned it 52 yards for a score to help make it 13-0 with 5:06 remaining in the first quarter.

“We just came out flat,” Eagles Head Coach James Ford said, “but our guys really turned it up, and we made some adjustments at halftime, and we leaned on them, and we wore them down, and that was the big thing.”

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While Prince Edward wasn’t able to pull away until the second half, it still managed to turn things around in the first half, and as Ford noted, the Eagles held the lead at halftime for the first time this season.

They actually took the lead before the first quarter ended. A big kickoff return by Aneal Walker to the Cumberland 12-yard line set up J’Sean Dupuy for a 12-yard touchdown run that helped make the score 13-7 with 4:53 left in the period.

Walker intercepted a Dukes pass, and the ensuing Eagles drive ended with a two-yard scoring run by Dupuy to help give Prince Edward a 14-13 lead with 57 seconds remaining.

After the teams punted the ball to each other in the second quarter, the Eagles employed their passing attack, with Walker and Jair Haskins recording catches.

“We made really good strides in the passing game as far as completing our passes,” Ford said when reflecting on the game overall.

The Haskins reception resulted in a 30-yard gain to the Dukes five-yard line, and Rahme Marshall ran the ball in from there to help give his team a 21-13 advantage going into halftime.

Prince Edward outscored Cumberland 14-0 in the third quarter, and the Eagles might have doubled that, but they had two touchdowns called back due to penalties.

Dupuy fought his way through the Dukes defense to score on an 11-yard run with 4:38 left on the clock in the third, helping push the score to 28-13.

After Cumberland was not able to do much offensively, the Eagles struck again, scoring on an 18-yard Dupuy run and going up 35-13.

Next, the Dukes turned the ball over on downs, Zion Lewis made a big run to the Cumberland 14-yard line and Jarrell Robinson ran for a 14-yard touchdown. After a penalty backed up Chaney Sheehan’s extra point attempt, he was still able to complete it successfully, bouncing the ball through off the left upright to make the score 42-13 early in the fourth quarter.

Cumberland again turned the ball over on downs, and shortly thereafter, Marshall produced a 69-yard touchdown run, pushing the lead to 48-13.

“We just continued to pound the ball with our backs, and they ran the ball hard,” Ford said. “I’m proud of those guys. The o-line opened up holes, and it was a good team win.”

The Dukes added six points with 1:28 left in the game when Darron Ridley scored on a 15-yard run.

“Ultimately, our limited numbers helped us run out of gas,” Cumberland Head Coach Edgar Knapp said, “and so some of the kids got nicked up a little bit and (were) trying to play through some injuries through the second half, and we just ran out of gas. It’s simple as all that. We’ll go back to practice on Monday, and we’ll have a little bit more of a conditioning aspect to practice to make sure that that doesn’t happen again.”

Dupuy finished the game with 127 yards and and four touchdowns on 18 carries. Marshall ended up with 13 carries for 147 yards and two touchdowns, and he also had a 53-yard kickoff return. Lewis had eight carries for 59 yards, and Robinson gained 49 yards and a touchdown on four carries.

Walker recorded two receptions for 56 yards and two kickoff returns for 85 yards.

On defense, Tajh White led Prince Edward with eight total tackles, including five solo tackles and two tackles for loss. Dupuy had seven total tackles, including five solo, and James Morgan had five tackles, three solo and one sack. Among the other defensive standouts, Khalil Smith and Walker each recorded an interception.

Kyle led Cumberland with 15 carries for 42 yards and a score, and he was 7-for-22 passing for 132 yards and two interceptions. Ridley had four carries for 23 yards and a touchdown, and Ziahir Berry had three catches for 42 yards.

Defensively, K.J. Copeland led the Dukes with nine total tackles, including eight solo and one for loss. Berry, Noah Bland and Davin Boykin each recorded six total tackles apiece.

Ford said that starting 3-0 is big. He was in his first year as an assistant coach at the school in 2007 when Prince Edward last started with a trio of victories.
“But … the last time we were 3-0, we finished 4-6,” the coach said. “So, I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. Right now, we’ll enjoy this tonight, and we’ll be getting ready for Bluestone (High School) starting Sunday.”

On Friday at 7 p.m., the Eagles host the Barons, and the Dukes (0-2) host Amelia County High School.