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Eagles ride King, defense to 33-6 win over Elkins

Elkins’ Rodney Vandevender nears the end zone against RCB. Photo by Greg Carey/WVMetroNews.com

 

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — One week after notching its first playoff win in school history, Class AA No. 16 Elkins was giving No. 8 Robert C. Byrd all it could handle for the majority of the first half during Sunday’s quarterfinal.

Yet after scoring a touchdown to close the Eagles lead to 12-6 just 42 seconds before halftime, the Tigers lost momentum when RCB tailback Jeremiah King hauled in a 64-yard touchdown reception from Xavier Lopez with 26 seconds left in the opening half. The Eagles took a 19-6 lead into halftime and went on to blank Elkins over the final two quarters en route to a 33-6 victory.

“It was a game changer,” Eagles’ coach Josh Gorrell said of King’s touchdown reception. “Jeremiah made a big play and Xavier threw a nice ball. It put us back up two scores and put us in the right frame of mind going into halftime.”

The win allows RCB to advance to next Sunday’s semifinal at Oak Glen.

King’s 64-yard TD reception came on the first play from scrimmage following Rodney Vandevender’s 1-yard touchdown run on a quarterback sneak. Although Elkins (6-4) chewed off 5:29 of the second-quarter clock with its lone scoring drive, the Eagles (8-2) answered with what proved to be the turning point.

“It’s almost like deja vu of our first meeting,” Tigers’ coach Evan Hott said. “They scored twice within 50 seconds and it just sucked the air out of us. Tonight was the same thing. We were in good position, but it was a good ball by Lopez and obviously King made a play.”

Elkins got inside the red zone on its opening series of the second half, but Dante Ramirez was stopped for 3 yards on a fourth-and-12 running play.

The Eagles seized control from there and moved into Tigers’ territory on a 39-yard pass from Lopez to Tommy Hawkins, before King raced 28 yards to the end zone for his third rushing TD of the game — leaving RCB with a 26-6 lead at the 3:25 mark of the third quarter.

The Tigers again stalled on downs in RCB territory on their next possession, and the Eagles put the game out of reach when Lopez threw a 34-yard TD pass to Aidan Morris to up their lead to 33-6 with 11:02 to play.

“Overall, probably our best game defensively all year,” Gorrell said. “Very pleased with how we executed and what we did.”

Although RCB muffed the game’s opening kickoff, its defense forced a three-and-out to prevent EHS from taking an early lead.

The Eagles then marched 90 yards in seven plays, with King’s 45-yard run giving them a 6-0 lead at the 5:38 mark of the opening quarter.

King’s second rushing touchdown came 6:11 before halftime from 5 yards out to give RCB a 12-0 advantage.

The Tigers, however, answered with their lone scoring drive, capitalizing on good field position and marching 49 yards in 10 plays before scoring on the Vandevender quarterback sneak.

Elkins, which suffered a season-opening 35-12 loss to RCB, would get no closer.

“RCB flew to the point of attack and made it hard for us to run our base plays,” Hott said. “In the second half, they did a good job of stopping what we were trying to put together. It just didn’t seem like we had that same mojo or flow that we had the last four or five weeks.”

King rushed for 228 yards on 25 carries.