The Eagles knew the final regular season game of the year against William Monroe was going to be a challenge. A standout running back and a 7-2 record painted a daunting task for Clarke County. But, hard hitting football and cool heads propelled the Eagles to a 46-21 victory over the Dragons.
The extremely physical game was marked by big plays and a huge number of penalties committed by the Dragons as their offense and defense were frustrated by the Eagles.
“I was really happy with the way we physically played this game, old school football and that’s the way we like it.” Eagles coach Parker said after the game. “Our offensive line did a great job. Our guys were running hard, especially in the second half. I think we really took it to them.”
However, the Eagles ability to play through adversity was the key to Friday’s victory. Nine unsportsmanlike like penalties ranging from roughing the passer to horse-collar tackles raised the intensity on the field but the Eagles remained cool headed throughout the night. Parker commented on the penalties saying, “I told our guys they had to keep their heads and its tough, you have to fight through adversity and play the game the way its supposed to be played and be physical with them.”
Indeed the Eagles smashed down the Dragons holding William Monroe’s leading rusher, #3 Doug Sizemore to under 100 yards rushing for the night while two eagle backs, Hardesty and Paice both had 100 yard plus nights.
But the game didn’t start on a high note.
Clarke won the toss and received the ball, but on their first offensive play of the night Eagles running back #3 Jesse Smoot coughed up the ball handing the Dragons excellent field position on the Eagle 33 yard line. With 8:37 left in the first quarter the Dragons scored the first points of the game off of a fumble into the end zone by #3 Douglas Sizemore.
Ball handling would prove to be a problem for the Dragons throughout the night. Two interceptions by #5 Davey Hardesty and bad snap in the end zone kept the Dragons on their heels. The Dragon’s frustration began to emerge in the first quarter as William Monroe began to incur a parade of penalties. A holding call on offense brought back a huge pass completion and backed the Dragons up into their end zone. A bad snap over the punters head gave the Eagles the ball on downs at the dragon 15 yard line. Three plays later Eagles #5 Davey Hardesty bulled his way into the end zone for Clarke County’s first points of the night. A wide right PAT put the score at 6-7.
Then the Eagle defense came to life. A forced fumble the Dragons recovered and the first of nine personal fouls by William Monroe stalled the Dragons drive, when a huge momentum killing sack by #54 Chance Ramey shut-down the Dragon offense and forced them to punt the ball away.
The Eagle offense would waste no time taking advantage. The Smoot, Hardesty, Paice backfield went to work powering to the Dragon 49. With 10:00 left in the half Eagle coaching sent in a new spin play that they had not used this season. As the ball was snapped #4 Drew Paice did a 180° spin and found a wide open door through the middle of the line and tore through the Dragon defense for a 49 yard touchdown run to put the Eagles up 13-7.
The Eagle defense held in the next series and forced the punt, but the Dragons went for a fake pass play and failed handing the ball to the Eagles on their own 38. Another unsportsmanlike flag at the end of the play advanced the ball to the Dragon 47. Three plays and a face mask penalty later Drew Paice would bust in his second TD run to stretch the Eagle lead 20-7.
But, the Dragons still had some fight. With 1:55 left in the half #7 Jordan Gentry took a Eagle punt at the 5 yard line and blazed 95 yards for a special teams touchdown to take the score to 20-14.
With only 1:46 left in the half, the Eagles started on their own 46 thanks to a 38 yard kick off return by #28 Connor Shendow. Nine plays and 30 yards of defensive penalties later Shendow attempted a 32 yard field goal and nailed it through the uprights to put the Eagles ahead at the half 23-14.
In the second half an early fumble by the Eagles opened the door for the Dragons to narrow the lead on a deep pass for a touchdown tightening the game 23-21.
The Eagles were unfazed. On their very next series, they marched the ball down the field with 5 first downs in seven plays culminating in a 3 yard touchdown run by Davey Hardesty.
From there it was all Clarke County. Connor Shendow added a 34 yard filed goal, Drew Paice and Nick Helmut also added touchdowns to closeout the victory at 46-21
The win puts Clarke County’s Eagles in a tie for second place with three other teams. Clarke County, William Monroe, and Manassas Park all share identical 4-2 records in the Bull Run District.
Post-season pairings will be posted as soon as they become available.