By Randy Arrington
BERRYVILLE, Oct. 28 — Luray doubled up Clarke in nearly every category on Friday night, both good and bad. While the Bulldogs put up well over double the yardage and nearly doubled the Eagles’ time of possession, Luray also had twice as many penalties and twice as many turnovers.
However, the Bulldogs doubled up where it counted and claimed a big 28-14 Bull Run District victory on the road at Clarke Friday night. The win moves Luray to 7-2 on the season, with their regular season finale set for Nov. 4 when they host the Mountaineers of Madison County. Clarke falls to 6-3 and closes out the regular season at Page County next Friday.
The Bulldogs once again put together a strong ground game that racked up 359 yards against the Eagles. Senior Kenny Frye lead the way with 165 yards on 17 carries and one touchdown, but fellow senior Brady Jenkins nearly matched that with 145 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns.
Jenkins leads the region in rushing, and — after Friday night’s game at Clarke — is the first to surpass 1,000 yards. Through nine games, the senior All-Region running back has amassed 1,058 yards and scored 15 touchdowns. He averages about 10 yards per carry.
The only two times that the Luray offense did not score on Friday night, they turned the ball over — a fumble on the very first play of the game that gave the Eagles the ball on their 20 yard line; and an interception that ended a 10-play drive in the fourth quarter that reached Clarke’s 20 yard line.
Clarke took advantage of the great field position early on and drove 20 yards on six plays to score on their opening possession. Senior quarterback Matthew Sipe ran the ball in from seven yards out to give Clarke a 7-0 lead just 3:36 into the game.
Luray then answered back with an eight-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a one-yard touchdown plunge by Frye to even the score just three minutes later. After Clarke gained one first down due to a penalty and then punted, the Bulldogs again drove down the field 86 yards on 10 plays over 5:32. Junior quarterback Ryder Liscomb broke loose on a sweep for 19 yards to the end zone and Luray took a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter.
On Friday night, Clarke tried to tap into the success that East Rockingham had two weeks ago through the air against Luray, but they only completed three of 13 attempts — and one of those was for a loss, while another went for one yard. However, junior William Booker grabbed the one that counted — a 63-yard touchdown pass from Sipe that ended a short, three-play drive and quickly evened the score back up at 14-14 with 7:50 left in the first half.
The Bulldogs would eat up the remaining 7:50 through a sustained, grinding 15-play drive that covered 80 yards and ended with a six-yard run by Jenkins that gave Luray a 21-14 lead at halftime.
After a three-and-out by Clarke to open the second half, Luray once again put together another sustained drive — this time a 10-play, 77-yard drive that ended with a big 33-yard run by Jenkins. The drive took 6:13 off the clock in the third quarter as Luray took their final lead at 28-14.
Clarke came into Friday night’s game confident after a tough 14-7 win the previous week over East Rock, who had beaten the Bulldogs 35-14 two weeks earlier. During that game, Clarke also got back last season’s Offensive Player of the Year, Kyler Darlington, following an early season injury. However, Darlington was stalled out by the Luray defense, who held him to only 37 yards after a dozen grueling carries.
After finding the end zone in two of three possessions in the first half, Clarke would only pick up four first downs in the second half — one on a fake punt and another on a Luray penalty. The Eagles only sustained one of their three drives during the half, moving the ball about 54 yards in the fourth quarter on 15 plays. But the drive stalled after a huge sack by sophomore Timothy McClung for a loss of 11 yards.
The Eagles may have also lost Sipe, who was carted off the field following an injury early in the fourth quarter. The senior finished the game with 11 yards on two carries, and going 3-for-10 through the air. Clarke had a total of 165 yards of offense and only had the ball for about 18 minutes during the game, compared to the Bulldogs, who held it for nearly 30 minutes. However, the home team was only penalized five times, while Luray drew 10 flags.
Luray racked up a total of 389 yards of offense, including 30 yards in passing from Liscomb. The senior went 2-for-4 through the air and added 60 yards on the ground on eight carries.
The Bulldogs break a two-game losing streak and now host Madison County next Friday. The PVN Sports Crew will be accompanying the NFHS Network’s livestream between the Bulldogs and the Mountaineers.
Region B playoffs begin Nov. 11.
For full schedules, rosters and standings — check out the Bull Run District website.