Missed opportunities and special teams breakdowns doomed the Eagles prospects for an extended post-season run as the Strasburg Rams defeated Clarke County 34- 27 Friday night.
The Eagles came into the game riding a two-game winning streak, but faced a Ram offense that had dominated them in regular season play, mainly on the back of #9 Rakwon White. While the Eagles managed to stay in the game all night, special teams breakdowns and turnovers stacked-up points the Eagles struggled to answer.
The game was scoreless through the first quarter. A deflected pass, intercepted by #5 Davey Hardesty midway through the first quarter gave the Eagles good field position at the Ram’s 43 yard line. Clarke County used the turnover to grind 7 minutes off the clock with a fourteen play drive to put the first points on the board as the clock ticked into the second quarter.
But the Rams would need only 3 plays to fire back with a 36 yard touchdown run by junior running back #9 Rakwon White to tie the game at 7-7 just a minute later.
Clarke County would keep the pressure on in spite of the quick score. Two series later, the Eagles forced a Ram fumble and put together a 53 yard drive. With a 1:05 left in the half on fourth and two, #5 Davey Hardesty plowed through the line and ran 24 yards for a touchdown to regain the lead at 14-7.
The Rams however, would answer back with another quick strike. Ram running Back #33 Todd Dean took the kickoff at the Eagle 23 yard line and tore up field for a 77 yard kickoff return using only 12 seconds off the clock to tie the game at the half.
The Rams would receive the ball as the second half started and lightning would strike again. In an unbelievable lapse of Eagle special teams the Rams returned another kick off to score. This time #7 Troy Gordon took the ball from the ten yard line and blazed through the Eagle defenders to score the touchdown.
The affront to special teams spurred the Eagles to respond. As the Rams kicked off #5 Davey Hardesty worked back and forth behind his blockers to pull off a 77 yard return to put the Eagles in striking position on the Ram’s 15. Three plays later Hardesty would run it in from the 18 yard line to tie the score at 21.
But the Rams rushing machine was in high gear as they proceeded to blow through the Eagles with a six play drive, 5 of which were first downs. At 9:16 Rakwon White scored his second touchdown of the night and the Rams went ahead 28-21.
But in a déjà vu moment the Eagles pulled a lightning strike of their own. As Hardesty fielded the ball at the Eagle 20 yard line, a seam opened up and he ran 80 yards for the score that would have tied the game at 28, but a blocked PAT left the Eagles behind for good.
Both teams traded series punting away, but the Eagles were backed up on their own 33 and the snap to punter Alex Sefton sailed high and gave the Rams the ball on the 8 yard line with first and goal. It took Strasburg just two plays to punch it in for Rakwon White’s third touchdown of the night and the final points of the game to take the score 34-27 with 1:24 left in the third quarter.
The Eagles fought hard to come from behind in the fourth quarter but were unable to mount a successful drive and with 59 seconds left in the game gave the ball over on downs to close out their 2011 season.
The Rams will go on to face Amelia County High School next Friday at 7:00 PM in Amelia.