By Randy Arrington
LURAY, Oct. 27 — The struggling Bulldogs of Luray were within one yellow flag and a bad snap from being tied 7-7 at halftime with a talented Clarke County team in Friday night’s Bull Run matchup. However, the Bulldogs fell victim to their own paws, committing two costly turnovers that resulted in nine points for the Eagles, as well as drawing 16 penalties. Clarke scored in each quarter and added a safety in the fourth to walk away from Bulldog Field with a 30-0 district win.
The game was truly closer than the score might indicate, as the Luray defense held the Eagles mostly in check — except for the first drive. Clarke drove 57 yards in six plays in the opening three minutes behind the strong running of senior William Booker, who scored from five yards out for a 7-0 lead with 8:55 left in the first.
Luray moved the ball in small chunks of a few yards most of the night, picking up a total of 11 first downs. The Bulldogs’ opening drive took almost six minutes, and another first half drive extended for 16 plays. Yet, Luray could not find the end zone — and the one time they did, a holding penalty nullified a great play.
As the Bulldogs lined up to punt for a third consecutive time in the first half, the snap sailed over the punter’s head and was recovered at the one-yard line by Clarke. Junior Wilson Talyor took it across the goal line one play later to cap the first half scoring at 14-0 with six minutes left.
Luray’s next drive took almost six minutes, covered 89 yards (starting at their own 11), and extended for 16 plays…but still not points. A 21-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Ayden Haddock to senior wide receiver Ryder Liscomb was called back due to a holding penalty. Clarke ran two plays before time expired at the half.
The Eagles scored on their first possession of the second half, covering 67 yards in seven plays over five minutes. Following a Luray offside penalty on 2nd-and-11, Booker appeared to fumble the ball around the 40-yard line and Luray recovered it. However, rather than giving possession to one team or the other — “confusion” by the officiating crew resulted in a “redo” as the refs decided to replay the down. Clarke would score four plays later as junior quarterback Tanner Sipe found the end zone from four yards out to make the score 21-0.
Clarke would score their final touchdown on their next possession at the start of the fourth quarter. The Eagles took only three plays to cover 61 yards, aided by two Luray penalties. Taylor scored his second touchdown from nine yards out to give the Eagles a 28-0 lead with only 10:12 left in the game.
A second bad snap on a fourth-quarter Luray punt once again sailed over the head of the punter, who then kicked the ball out of the back of the end zone for a safety (rather than give up a touchdown), cappting the scoring at 30-0.
Booker lead the Eagles on the ground with 12 carries for 75 yards and two touchdowns. Sipe had eight carries for 46 yards and one touchdown. Through the air, Sipe went 1-for-3 for seven yards.
Sophomore Cason Bryant lead Luray with 19 carries for 70 yards, while senior Ayden Starkey rushed 16 times for 58 tough yards. Through the air, Haddock went 5-for-10 for 36 yards.
With the win, Clarke moves to 7-2 overall and 2-2 in the Bull Run. The Eagles close out the regular season by hosting Madison County on Thursday, Nov. 2. (The game was moved up a day because of SAT testing on Saturday morning, Nov. 4.)
With the loss, Luray falls to 1-8 overall and 0-4 in the district. Next up, the Bulldogs travel south down Route 340 to take on cross-county rival Page at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 3.
For full schedules, rosters and standings — check out the Bull Run District website.