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Eagles cut off Indians at pass

September 05, 2006|by CHRIS CARTER / Staff Correspondent

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - Berkeley Springs quarterback Nathan Sirbaugh passed for 206 yards and Indian running backs added 230 more on the ground against Hedgesville on Monday afternoon.

All that ground covered wasn't enough to uncover the shortcomings on fourth down along with costly interceptions as the Indians fell to the Eagles 30-27 at Mumaw Stadium.

The Hedgesville defense bent all afternoon, but when its breaking points came, the unit stood strong. The Eagles (1-1) stopped Berkeley Springs (1-1) on three fourth-down situations - two in the fourth quarter - and Nick Comer intercepted Sirbaugh with 37 seconds remaining to stop the Indians' potential game-winning drive.

"(Coach) just said 'No one gets behind me,' so I was going deep," Comer said. "(Sirbaugh) scrambled out and I remember Coach Munson telling me that they're a good pass blocking team so I got to get deep."

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Comer was so deep that when Sirbaugh overthrew wide receiver Justin Thomas, it landed in his chest for his second interception and the fourth for the Eagles.

"That's our offense, said Berkeley Springs coach Angelo Luvara. "We don't holler at kids about throwing interceptions and things like that. When you're playing high school football you live with that stuff and die with that stuff."

Berkeley Springs was forced into a two-minute offense after its previous two fourth quarter drives stalled on fourth down. The Indians drove to the 5-yard line to start the quarter and were stopped on fourth-and-1 when Sirbaugh's pass in the end zone fell to the ground.

Then, with less than three minutes remaining, the Indians faced another fourth-and-1 - this time in their own territory - and Sirbaugh was stuffed on a bootleg.

"We just missed a blocking assignment," Luvara said.

The Indians responded by holding the Eagles on three plays to force a punt. They got the ball back with 1:34 left at their own 20, but were out of timeouts. Sirbaugh completed a 20-yard pass and two rushing plays gained 21 more yards to set up the Indians at the Hedgesville 39 with 45 seconds remaining. On the next play Comer ended the drive and the game.

"When we had to, we came up with big plays," said Hedgesville coach Dave Lopez. "They had fourth and a yard and never got it and at the end the game they went for it and never got it."

The only time Berkeley Springs converted on fourth down was just before halftime when Sirbaugh hit Foster Sirbaugh for a 10-yard touchdown to pull the score to 22-20.

Nathan Sirbaugh finished with three touchdowns - two to 6-foot-4 tight end Ryan Morris - to keep Berkeley Springs within striking distance. Still, the Indians never led.

The Eagles took advantage of the Indians' goofs on special teams to take a quick 13-0 lead. Berkeley Springs botched its first three kickoff returns to help set up Hedgesville in good field position and the Eagles needed just five plays to score twice. Michael Lopez caught a 24-yard touchdown from Taylor Hockman and Daniel Kershner scored from 43 yards out.

Berkeley Springs evened the score at 13-13 at the end of the first quarter. Morris caught his first touchdown and Cody Reed ran four yards for a score.

The Indians' next drive to take the lead was reversed when Jordan Reed intercepted Sirbaugh and returned it 57 yards for a touchdown to give the Eagles a 19-13 lead.

A field goal by Comer gave Hedgesville a two-possession lead at 22-13 until Berkeley Springs scored just before halftime.

Hedgesville opened the second half as successful as it opened the game, driving 89 yards for a touchdown on the first series to extend the lead to 30-20. Kershner capped the drive with a 32-yard touchdown run and the fullback finished with 121 yards rushing.

"The big thing with our fullback position in itself is that everyone's stacking up on (tailback Richard Lane)," Dave Lopez said. "Sooner or later they're going to try to stop the fullback and Richard's going to run like crazy."

Berkeley Springs got to within a field goal on Morris' second touchdown reception from 25 yards, closing the gap to 30-27 with 4:26 left in the third quarter - the last point either team would reach the end zone.

Cody Reed rushed for 123 yards and Cody Hess added 117 for Berkeley Springs, who outgained Hedgesville by almost 180 yards. Morris finished with seven catches for 128 yards.

"We have a good football team, I don't care what anybody says," Luvara said. "Five, 10 years ago, there were moral victories at Berkeley Springs. There isn't any anymore. It was a loss and it's a loss."

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