East Rock Wins 34-12
James River’s Jordan Aylor dives to tackle East Rockingham’s Noah Brown during the Eagles’ victory Friday night in Elkton. (Photo by Jason Lenhart)
On a night when the East Rockingham High School junior rushed for two touchdowns and picked off three passes in a 34-12 Eagles’ win over James River, his choice was easy: “Defense wins games,” he said.
The East Rock defense dominated the majority of the game, giving its slow-starting offense multiple opportunities with good field position.
The Eagles trailed 6-0 in the first quarter after James River quarterback Sherman Austin connected with receiver Trey Chilcott on a 10-yard scoring pass with 2:16 to go after ERHS started the game flat and without rhythm on offense.
That changed on the Eagles’ first possession of the second quarter when senior quarterback Hunter Harman found junior speedy receiver Noah Brown for a 30-yard touchdown pass, and ERHS (2-0) jumped ahead on the William Bullis extra point.
“We knew Noah kind of had that capability, and the lights have come on for him after getting the opportunity, with two outstanding catches,” said East Rockingham coach Donnie Coleman.
Later in the second quarter, it was Harman to Brown again, this time with a 68-yard beautifully thrown pass that hit Brown in stride, allowing him to coast into the end zone and give ERHS a 14-6 lead.
“We know we have stuff to improve on, but I’m proud of our kids’ effort, and the coaches did a great job, too, and we’re glad it worked out,” Coleman said.
A 3-yard rushing touchdown from the undersized Cross put the Eagles ahead 21-6 in the third quarter. He picked off the first of his two passes on the ensuing James River drive as the Knights were knocking on the door deep in Eagles territory.
Coleman suppressed a laugh talking about his offensive and defensive star for the game.
“I’ll tell you what, when you look at Shannon coming down the steps with all 60 guys, you never think he’d be the player that he is, just from a physical standpoint, but the kid can definitely play,” Coleman said.
Senior Bret Reel scored on a 73-yard run on East Rock’s first possession of the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 27-6.
“Everybody ran the ball good, Hunter threw the ball as good as I’ve ever seen him, Bret ran the ball amazing, and the offensive line deserves a huge shout-out,” Cross said.
Austin responded with a 1-yard scoring run, but the Knights (1-2) failed on the two-point conversion to trail 27-12. Cross iced the game with under six minutes to play, scoring from 18 yards out and then adding his second interception on the next James River possession.
Reel finished with 168 yards and a score on 21 carries. Cross had 128 yards and two touchdowns on 23 rushes, while Brown’s three receptions totaled 108 yards.
Despite ERHS finding its rhythm on offense, the game remained an ugly, grind-it-out, penalty-filled game, but one in which Coleman was happy to escape unbeaten.
“We were battling injuries all night, and at the end, it looked like a MASH unit out there,” Coleman said. “But we’ll see another well-coached team in Madison County next week, and I’m sure it’ll be another battle.”
James River 6 0 0 6 — 12
East Rockingham 0 14 7 13 — 34
JR-Austin 10 pass to Chilcott. (kick failed) 2:16
ER-Harman 30 pass to Brown. (Bullis kick) 8:37
ER-Harman 68 pass to Brown. (Bullis kick) 2:40
ER-Cross 3 run. (Bullis kick) 5:46
ER-Reel 73 run. (kick failed) 10:06
JR-Austin 1 run (2-pt conversion failed). 8:40
ER-Cross 18 run (Bullis kick) 5:50
First Downs 11 17
Rushes-Yards 26-136 45-293
Passing Yards 96 126
Total Yards 232 319
Comp-Att-Int 9-21-3 5-16-0
Punts 4-23.5 3-38.5
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-2
Penalties-Yards 6-52 8-86
RUSHING—JR, Sink 10-32, Gonino 1-(-2), Austin 8-50, Aylor 2-(-4), Schulz 5-60. ER, Reel 21-168, Cross 23-128, Ramirez 1-0, Monger 1-(-3).
PASSING—JR, Austin 9-21-3-89. ER, Harman 5-16-0-126
RECEIVING—JR, Sink 1-10, Chilcott 2-14, Schulz 4-64, Hoppe 2-8. ER, Brown 3-108, Hurt 1-15, Monger 1-3.