Rivers leads Sherando as Penn State coaches look on
WINCHESTER – With Penn State head football coach James Franklin and Nittany Lions linebacker assistant Brent Pry on the sidelines, Sherando coach Bill Hall decided he would showcase two-way performer Dylan Rivers Saturday at the Handley bowl as the Warriors dropped Handley 56-0 on a running, second-half clock.
Rivers, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound tight end-linebacker, has committed to play in State College, Pennsylvania, for the 2017 football season and will sign his binding letter of intent on the first Wednesday of February.
Before then, he had work to do, as he showed against the Judges (1-6 overall, 0-1 Northwestern District) in a district/Conference 21 West rivalry game, a series in which Sherando now leads 12-11 alltime against its city neighbor.
“With Coach Pry (Rivers’ lead recruiter) and Coach Franklin here we wanted to show Dylan a little bit. He does a lot of dirty-work type things for us and he deserved this chance,” Hall said.
Rivers caught three touchdown passes from quarterback Hunter Entsminger in the blowout victory which kept the Warriors (4-3, 2-0) in the hunt for a post-season playoff berth.
The Warriors entered the contest as the 15th-ranked club in their region with a power rating of 20.5 and with a huge game upcoming at multi-state-champion Fort Hill of Cumberland, Maryland.
“Well, the linebackers, the corners and the safeties were pressing in, so we thought we’d have a chance for some things,” said Entsminger.
The sophomore signal caller expertly directed the Warrior offense to the 49 points after three quarters as the clock continued moving due to the 35-point rule in the second half.
After three frames, Hall and his staff substituted liberally as the offense, with running back Cordell Peterson making his first appearance of the season, scoring the final blow in the fourth.
The shutout was saved when reserve Joe Kelliher intercepted a Handley quarterback Nick Hott interception, almost returning it for another 6 as time ran out.
Teammate Aaron Banks picked off two passes.
“It’s not really like we said, ‘Let’s single out Dylan for this one game and run these plays for him.’ It was all within the context of our offense,” said Hall.
“With their linebackers and corners crashing, it took a flip of the hips (to score). Hunter hit those passes to me,” said Saturday’s star.
Rivers had scored one touchdown via pass entering the Handley Hall of Fame game, and the three scores were his most, catching the ball this season. He said he scored on four occasions in a game in 2015.
“Having (coaches Franklin and Pry) here was good. I always like to see them at our games,” said Rivers, who long ago ended his recruitment. “It wasn’t any real extra pressure on anything.”
With the Nittany Lions enjoying the day off Saturday, Rivers said he knew Coach Pry, who directly recruited him for Penn State, was on the way to the 1 p.m. kickoff. He found out about the head man “about an hour before the game.”
What would be one hour later he was on his way to a massive day.
Rivers caught the trio of 6-pointers one-right-after-another as the first period ended and quarter No. 2 began.
The team already was on top 14-0 after touchdowns by tailback T.J. Washington (227 yards rushing, one touchdown) and Nathan Wagner (98 yards on the artificial turf and two scores).
Then Hall, his offensive assistants and Entsminger decided to find Rivers.
With time ticking down in the first quarter, the Sherando passer dialed up his big receiver on a 19-yard scoring play that went right over the top of the Handley defense.
Kicker Jacob Sites was good on his point-after kick, as he was seven others on the day. Sherando held a 21-0 advantage with 14.1 seconds on the clock.
Handley punter Aidan Marshall, who was easily his team’s most valuable player (averaging 57 yards per boot), had the Sherando offense bottled up at its 28, and the Warriors even lost three yards on their first play of the drive.
But Entsminger dropped a perfectly placed ball into the wide-open tight end’s hands. Rivers’ second touchdown covered 62 yards with 7:53 showing in the half. With the kick it was 28-0.
Handley fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving way to Rivers’ third sixer of the day and equally, Entsminger’s (12 completions, 14 attempts and 142 yards) third scoring aerial.
So, just 12 seconds after Rivers’ touchdown catch No. 2, he picked up his third scoring play.
Again, he was wide open and cruised into the end zone with the 20-yard grab. The kick made it 35-0 with 7:41 showing in the half.
The Warriors next score came off a pick by Adam Miller on a pass by Handley freshman Nick Hott.
With a seven-play, 55-yard drive – aided by a 21-yard reception of a screen pass by Washington – Sherando got on the board again.
Wagner took a pitch from Entsminger and rounded left end for 14 yards and the touchdown. Another good extra point showed Sherando on top 42-0 at the 4:12 mark of the second half.
In the Virginia High School League, if one team has at least a 35-point lead in the second half, the clock turns with a few exceptions.
That’s where the two rivals found themselves as the third period opened.
This time Hall & Co. called on Washington, who penetrated the Handley defense. The sophomore carried six straight times for 55 yards. Then it was Entsminger’s turn as he bolted over from the 3-yard line. The kick was good and for a 49-0 left with 7:31 left in the third period.
Peterson, a 185-pound senior, saw his first action of the season in the fourth period.
Hall replaced leading rusher Washington with Peterson, who carried 10 times. The payoff came on a 10-yard plow through Handley’s line. Sites capped the scoring for the day. It was 56-0 with 5:21 left in the game.
Handley negotiated its best drive of the contest moving within the shadow of the goal post, but Kelliher alertly stole the ball out of the air on a pass play and cruised almost 75 yards before being tackled at the 1 when the game ended.
Handley has had trouble this year giving up the big play, while Sherando has relied on such touches to win its third straight game and its second consecutive shutout of a rival. Two Saturdays ago, the Warriors drilled James Wood 34-0.
Those crowd-pleasing long-gainers were on show Saturday. In the first half alone, Sherando contributed eight plays that went 20 yards or more. Against Loudoun Valley on Oct. 7, the Judges gave up scores of 94 and 39 yards.
“The big plays were great,” said Washington, “a lot of credit goes to the blockers.”
In the first half alone, Sherando rushed for 240 yards and put up an additional 142 yards through the air.
In the same time-frame Handley, a team that has been battered by injuries this year, gained 42 total yards.
The Warriors’ defense picked off four Judges passes.This was Sherando’s sixth straight conquest of Handley in the 23-game history of the series.
Contact Jim Laise at email@example.com.
Sherando 28 14 7 7–56
Handley 0 0 0 0–0
S: Washington 26 run (Sites kick) 10:59
S: Wagner 76 run (Sites kick) 6:39
S: Rivers 19 pass from Entsminger (Sites kick) 14.1
S: Rivers 62 pass from Entsminger (Sites kick) 7:53
S: Rivers 20 pass from Entsminger (Sites kick) 7:41
S: Wagner 14 run (Sites kick) 4:12
S: Entsminger 3 run (Sites kick) 7:21
S: Peterson 10 run (Sites kick) 5:21
First downs 4-17
Rushing yards 32 412
Passing yards 71 142
Comp-Att-Int 5-16-4 12-14-0
Fumbles-lost 1-1 4-2
Penalties 2-15 5-43
Rushing – andley: A. Mudd 4-19, Brown 6-7, Davenport 8-5, Bell 1- (-2), Morris 1-3, Newman 1-0. Sherando: Entsminger 4-10, Washington 19-227, Doleman 1-6, Wagner 4-98, Peterson 11-71
Passing – Handley: Hott 5-14-4, 71 yards, Morris 0-2-0. Sherando: Entsminger 12-14, 142 yards.
Receiving – Handley: J. Davenport 1-10, C. Davenport 1-29, T. Mudd 2-27, Walker 2-5. Sherando: Banks 1-12, Rivers 3-101, Washington 1-21, Doleman 1-6