Cougars defeat Hawks

By Josh Michael – sports@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL — The game was never in any doubt as Kettle Run used three first-quarter touchdowns and a stifling defense to beat host Skyline, 35-0, in football action Friday night.

It was a game of total domination on both sides of the football for the Cougars as they accrued three takeaways on defense and did not commit a single turnover on offense.

The Cougars put up 35 points of offense, but their defense was the star of the show as they forced a fumble and picked off two Corban Ruch pass attempts on the night. It was not just the turnovers that stood out defensively, but the Cougars’ complete domination at the line of scrimmage.

“They go zero coverage and put as many people in the box as you can, and if you can’t handle that, they are going to control the field position with their defense and special teams all night long. We knew what would happen if we couldn’t run the football,” said Skyline coach Heath Gilbert, when asked about Kettle Run’s defense.

Running the football was certainly an issue for the Hawks, with the Cougars holding them to just 11 total rushing yards the entire night. Unfortunately for Skyline, the passing game was not much better with Ruch seeing plenty of pressure in his face all night. He was able to complete just five of his 16 pass attempts for 56 yards and two interceptions. Kettle Run senior Evan Szklennik was the recipient of both of Ruch’s interceptions and was all over the field the entire game.

Kettle Run did not waste any time getting started Friday, as a bad Skyline snap resulted in a fumble on the first drive of the game and the Cougars took over on the Hawks’ 35-yard line. After the Hawks defense held the Cougars on the first three plays to force a fourth-and-7, Kettle Run quarterback Denzel Champion threw a 32-yard pass right on the money to David Eldridge to take a quick 7-0 lead.

That would not be the first time Champion and Eldridge would hook up in the game, as the duo connected later in first quarter on a quick screen pass that Eldridge would take 56 yards to the house for his second touchdown of the game. Eldridge finished the game with four catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns, and it was easily apparent that his size was an advantage.

“They got some players, they have some guys who can do some things,” said Gilbert.

Eldridge was certainly one of those players, but their senior running back De Jackson would be another. Jackson did most of the running for the Cougars’ offense and despite only having four runs longer than five yards, he still finished with a game high 91 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

It was certainly a disappointing night for the Hawks as they may have been looking for a little revenge against the Cougars. Kettle Run eliminated Skyline from the playoffs last season, and also beat them in the regular season.