Streaks Down Handley, 32-21
Jordan Leads Harrisonburg Over Rival
On a hot Saturday afternoon, the TA transfer managed a more memorable performance.
Touching the football just six times – four carries and two interceptions – senior Keenan Jordan scored the first two touchdowns for the Blue Streaks, as Harrisonburg capitalized on big plays through the air and four total interceptions in a 32-21 win over longtime rival Handley.
“He’s a good kid,” Harrisonburg coach Chris Thurman said of Jordan. “You know, he’s in the right spots. He does what you ask him. We, at times, played well and at times played very sloppy. … We were lucky to get out of here with the score the way it was.”
Jordan ran both of his interceptions back for touchdowns, but his second pick-six late in the fourth quarter was nullified by a penalty. Looking for playmaker Justin Washington on his third pass of the game, Handley sophomore quarterback Will Dearing found Jordan instead, as the Judges fell behind 14-0 with 2:27 to go in the first quarter.
Handley responded with its best drive of the game.
Dearing led the Judges on a methodical 14-play, 59-yard march that culminated with a 10-yard lofted touchdown pass to senior Stuart Carper in the back of the end zone, cutting the deficit to 14-7. The Streaks – who overcame nine penalties for over 100 yards – helped the scoring drive with a roughing the passer penalty on 3rd-and-16.
However, Harrisonburg’s defense stiffened from there. Giving up just two touchdowns the rest of the way – one courtesy of a 62-yard fake punt pass by Washington to Brogan McPartland that setup a short 2-yard TD – the Streaks (2-0) forced five turnovers and four punts against the injury-riddled Judges (1-1).
“With as many mistakes that we made, we’re definitely not a team as good as Harrisonburg,” Handley coach Tony Rayburn said. “You know, we’re young. … I think the weather got to us a little bit. We have to get a little bit tougher.”
In his second varsity start, junior quarterback Ryan Nixon went 7-of-14 passing for 184 yards and two second-half TDs, adding a rushing score. More importantly, he didn’t turn the ball over under pressure. Five of Nixon’s seven completions went for 20 yards or more, including a 54-yard strike to senior Weylin Holmes that iced the game with 4:26 left.
“He’s getting a lot better,” Thurman said of Nixon. “He just needs reps.”
With a chance to put Handley away in the second half, Harrisonburg instead muffed a punt near the end of the third quarter. The Judges took advantage of their second special teams fumble recovery, scoring on an 18-yard Washington reception. Harrisonburg’s Issiah Smith, covering Washington on the play, came up limping a bit, as the Streaks clung to a 26-21 lead.
But the Judges would not get any closer.
Smith is “still not 100 percent,” Thurman said, and is continuing to work his way back into game shape after suffering a broken leg this past spring. Amidst plenty of injury timeouts for both sides and players cramping up, the Streaks seemed to hold up better in the sweltering conditions.
Rayburn said the Judges were dealing with a significant number of injuries before the game even began, using Washington as their third-string punter before he left the game temporarily in the fourth quarter.
“A whole lot of personnel,” Rayburn said. “I mean, we could barely – we couldn’t put some formations out there.”
Jordan praised the Harrisonburg coaching staff for pushing the Streaks hard in practice to prepare them for both the heat and their 72nd match-up against Handley, which still leads the all-time series 43-29 dating back to 1922.
Still struggling to catch his breathe after the game, Jordan finally cracked a smile when asked if his uncle’s presence made a difference.
“Well, I felt better,” he said. “When I was with TA I didn’t really play as well when he came. I really stepped it up [today].”
Harrisonburg 14 0 12 6— 32
John Handley 0 7 7 7— 21
Har – Jordan 16 run (Kile kick), 10:20
Har – Jordan 42 interception return (Kile kick), 2:27
JH – Carper 10 pass from Dearing (Marshall kick), 7:17
Har – Dove 40 pass from Nixon (kick failed), 8:45
Har – Nixon 7 run (kick failed), 6:23
JH – Wotring 2 run (Marshall kick), 4:05
JH – Washington 18 pass from Dearing (Marshall kick), 10:33
Har – Holmes 54 pass from Nixon (pass failed), 4:26
First Downs 7 13
Rushes-Yards 26-75 40-100
Passing Yards 184 121
Total Yards 259 221
Comp-Att-Int 7-14-0 10-19-4
Punts 4-38.5 4-39
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 3-1
Penalties-Yards 9-105 10-85
RUSHING—Harr: Nixon 16-37, Jordan 4-24, Dove 4-18, Johnson 1-1, Holmes 1-(minus 5). JH: Mauck 18-48, Wotring 16-49, Dearing 5-(minus 10), Poole 1-13.
PASSING—Harr: Nixon 7-14-0-184. JH: Dearing 9-18-4-59, Washington 1-1-0-62.
RECEIVING—Harr: Holmes 2-62, Rutherford 2-34, Dove 1-40, Smith 1-30, Fields 1-18. JH: Washington 3-28, McPartland 2-68, Nelson 1-5, Carper 1-10, Wotring 1-1, Mauck 1-2, Cestaro 1-7.