CLINCHPORT — The first-ever meeting between Rye Cove and Sullivan North was one the War Eagles will likely forget — immediately.
Dominated at the line of scrimmage, Rye Cove dropped a 36-12 decision to the Golden Raiders in non-district play Friday night.
North did what it does best all night — run between the tackles — thoroughly outplaying Rye Cove from the outset.
“We just do what we do,” Sullivan North coach Robbie Norris said. “We run the ball, play good defense and try not to make a lot of mistakes.
“We’re a simple football team.”
In fact, the Raiders were so successful on the ground, they threw the ball only twice. North ended the night with 344 rushing yards, with 204 of them coming in the first half.
The Raiders laid the groundwork for Friday’s result on their first possession. After forcing a punt from Rye Cove to open the contest, they marched 65 yards in eight plays — all runs.
Eric Pearcy rushed five times for 40 yards on the drive, including a 12-yard touchdown scamper.
“They dominated the game,” said Norris, referring to his offensive line.
Coming off a bye week, the War Eagles (0-2) looked sluggish on both sides of the football for much of the game. Coach Tom Callaway was none too pleased with the performance, either.
“We had a week off and it didn’t help us,” Callaway said. “I didn’t think we were in very good shape.
“I certainly hope this is a wake-up call,” he added. “We just went through the motions.”
North continued to outwork Rye Cove during the first half, particularly Hunter McReynolds. The junior fullback recorded a scoring run of 25 yards early in the second period, then later set up a TD with a 49-yard jaunt.
McReynolds added two more scores to his tally after the break, and finished with a game-high 167 yards on 17 carries. Pearcy rushed 13 times for 80 yards.
“The holes were huge,” McReynolds said. “The offensive line was blocking better than I’ve ever seen them block. They just put it on them.”
Defensively, the Raiders were stalwart — save for two plays.
“We kept our composure and stopped the run,” North linebacker Tyler Breeding said. “We were able to make some plays. We played hard.”
The highlight reel for Rye Cove was reduced to a pair of electrifying runs on each side of halftime.
Teddy Parker’s bruising 27-yard touchdown came late in the second quarter. Steven Vikara broke a 57-yard run to paydirt in the third, and gave the War Eagles an inkling of hope.
Rye Cove finished the night with just 84 yards of total offense, 67 of those coming on the ground.
“I don’t think (the game) was won at the line of scrimmage,” Callaway said. “I think we just didn’t block and tackle. That’s simply it.”
The War Eagles’ hopes completely disappeared early in the fourth period thanks to McReynolds, who capped the night’s scoring with an 11-yard dagger with eight minutes to play.
That’s two wins in a row for North, and McReynolds believes it’s only the start for a young, but talented, Raiders team.
“We’ve got some momentum,” McReynolds said. “We still have to work because we’re not where we want to be, but we’re getting better. We get better ever week.”