Kettle Run football blanks Skyline, 35-0
Kettle Run WR David Eldridge caught four passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns. --Photo By Rick Foster
Many of the Skyline Hawks came out wearing pink socks for Friday’s home game with Kettle Run.
It was a little like waving a red cape in front of an army of bulls.
Skyline’s offense proceeded to get attacked and gored as Kettle Run (2-2) rolled to an easy 35-0 victory that was essentially over by the end of the first quarter in Front Royal.
Herky jerky from the opening possession, Skyline (3-2) fumbled on its fourth play from scrimmage, threw two interceptions (both to Evan Szklennik) and was shut down all night. Skyline ended up with four first downs and minus 15 yards rushing.
Skyline coach Heath Gilbert said Kettle Run’s defensive game plan was clear: cram lots of players in the box and dare the Hawks to beat them through the air via one-on-one coverage.
“They’ve got players, they can do things, give Kettle Run and their coaching staff credit,” said Gilbert.
After a quiet, frustrating effort in a 17-7 loss to Sherando on Sept. 20, the Cougars’ offense also sprang to life as De Jackson ran 15 times for 87 yards and three touchdowns, and receiver David Eldridge caught four passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns.
“I think this is the first game this season where we really worked as a unit and achieved things,” said Eldridge, whose emergence as the Cougars' No. 1 playmaker was reinforced by another sensational game.
Eldridge got the Cougars rolling when he caught a 32-yard TD strike from quarterback Denzell Champion with 9:03 left in the first quarter.
The play came on fourth down.
Coach Jeff Lloyd said he went for it “to give the team confidence,” and the move was solid gold.
Eldridge ran a fly route up the right sideline. Champion dropped back, saw the junior speedster wide open by five yards and led him perfectly. “I had to make sure it got to him,” said Champion, who completed 7 of 14 passes for 148 yards and two TDs.
Kettle Run stopped the Hawks quickly and took over deep in Skyline territory on the 35-yard line. Jackson’s first TD came shortly on a 1-yard run with 4:30 left in the first.
Kettle Run made it 21-0 with 2:23 left in the first when Champion threw a simple screen pass to Eldridge in the left flat, and the lanky playmaker did the rest for a 56-yard TD. For the record, it was a one-play, 56-yard drive.
“I broke a tackle and then was able to go full speed into the end zone,” said Eldridge.
“On that play I let him make a play,” said Champion.
Kettle Run did nothing offensively in the second quarter, much to Lloyd’s dismay, but returned to productivity after halftime.
The Cougars stormed downfield to open the third quarter, taking a 28-0 lead on Jackson’s 2-yard run. The final accounting of 35-0 came on Jackson’s 22-yard TD sprint on the first play of the fourth quarter.
It’s been a bit of a rough start for Jackson, who has yet to record a signature game befitting his status as one of the top running backs in the Evergreen District and 3A Conference 27.
With three TDs, this was the closest.
Lloyd says Jackson, who leads the team with 240 yards over four games, has seen his numbers take a hit due to a new core unit of offensive lineman.
“It’s not all him. It’s those guys blocking for him. Tonight he looked like the old De,” said Lloyd. “We did a better job upfront.”
Jackson acknowledged that he’s hungry to see the running game pick up a little more.
“On that last TD I saw a huge hole, it was perfect,” Jackson said.
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