Eagles leave Stonewall ‘reeling’

By Brad Fauber

ELKTON — Stonewall Jackson found some positives to build on in last week’s loss to Wilson Memorial, but the Generals took a giant step backward in Friday’s Shenandoah District game against East Rockingham.

The Eagles, celebrating their Homecoming night, gashed Stonewall’s defense for 418 total yards in a 50-22 rout. East Rockingham senior Bret Reel was the highlight of the night for the Eagles, as he rushed for a career-high five touchdowns.

“It’s always nice — especially on Homecoming since it’s my last one — it’s always nice to have a good game,” said Reel, who finished with 133 yards on 25 carries. “The offensive line did an excellent job tonight. They blocked really well, gave me the holes to run. Without the offensive line I couldn’t have done any of it. They really don’t get enough credit for what they do.”

For longtime Stonewall head coach Dick Krol, Friday’s performance was just the latest in what has become a frustrating season for the winless Generals (0-6, 0-3 Shenandoah).

Stonewall Jackson surrendered 204 rushing yards to the Eagles, and Friday marked the third time this season that the Generals have allowed more than 50 points in a game.

“I’ve always said, all we need is 11 screaming kids who like to play football and we’re going to win games,” Krol said. “We can’t find 11 screaming kids willing to play football. It takes some finesse and everything to do offense, but defense can be done with 11 kids that just want to hit people. We don’t have 11 kids who want to hit people.”

Stonewall’s defense did start the game on a positive note, as the Generals forced East Rockingham to punt on the game’s first possession after a short six-play drive. However, the Generals fumbled the football on their first play from scrimmage, and Eagles junior Esteban Ramirez recovered it at the Stonewall 25 to give East Rockingham good field position.

Reel struck two plays later on a 21-yard touchdown scamper — his longest run of the evening — to give the Eagles an early 7-0 lead.

“The hole just really opened up nice and I really didn’t get touched the whole way,” Reel said. “It was good blocking — it was just a well-developed play, a good play call.”

Stonewall’s offense, which has begun to find some rhythm in its new flexbone scheme, answered quickly on its next possession with a three-play, 50-yard touchdown drive that was set up by a 47-yard option-keeper by quarterback Daniel Buhl that put Stonewall at the Eagles’ 1.

Generals junior running back Derrick Smith (17 carries, 97 yards) punched it into the end zone on the next play, and a successful two-point conversion gave Stonewall its first lead of the season with 8:20 left in the first quarter.

The Generals were able to hit on several long runs in the game, including a 52-yard touchdown run by Buhl to open the third quarter. Stonewall finished with 249 yards in the game, all of which came on the ground.

“The offense definitely has the capability to get some explosive plays,” said Buhl, who rushed for 137 yards on 13 carries. “When we were doing everything right, we were able to find the holes and drive them out of the way. But other times it was obvious that we were getting losses because we weren’t picking up the right people.”

Stonewall’s 8-7 lead held until early in the second quarter when Reel scored on a 5-yard plunge to give East Rockingham (4-2, 2-1) a 15-8 lead. Reel’s second touchdown run of the night started a string of 22 unanswered points for the Eagles in the second quarter that included a safety and touchdown runs of 3 yards and 1 yard by Reel.

East Rockingham took a 29-8 lead into halftime.

“Credit to the kids, they came out ready to play and got the job done tonight,” Eagles coach Donnie Coleman said. “We even went down and fought back.”

Stonewall cut the lead to 29-16 just two plays into the second half thanks to Buhl’s run, but East Rockingham answered right back with a 54-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Hunter Harman (13-for-18, 203 yards, 2 TDs) to Shannon Cross on the next play from scrimmage.

Harman found Dylan Snyder for a 5-yard touchdown pass that capped a 17-play, 99-yard drive with 11:53 left to play, and the Eagles recovered a loose ball on the ensuing kickoff at the Stonewall 11 that set up Reel’s 11-yard score, giving East Rockingham a 50-16 lead with 11:38 to play.

Generals senior Joseph McCabe scored on a 17-yard run in the final minutes of the game.

Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or bfauber@nvdaily.com