Rollins is cool with that.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound signal caller punched in scoring keepers of 4 yards and 1 yard as the Eagles beat visiting Castlewood 20-13 in a key Cumberland District upset.
“I don’t mind if we don’t pass it as long as we’re winning,” said Rollins, who had only 3 yards passing but pounded it 44 yards in 10 carries.
The Eagles (4-1, 1-0) had two weeks to prepare for the Blue Devils (3-2, 1-1) and clearly made good use of the open date. Rye Cove’s defense hemmed in the Castlewood rushing attack, holding it to 30 yards on the ground.
Hileman passed for 146 yards, including a 30-yard scoring strike to wide out Reid Edmonds. What he earned was under continual pressure from a Rye Cove pass rush that sacked him four times and hurried several more throws.
“We put in a new defense and we just mixed it up. They didn’t know who was coming for him,” said War Eagles defensive lineman Sammy Ervin, who shared credit with Blake Parker and Isaac Hammonds for two sacks.
Ervin pulled Hileman to the ground by his jersey sleeve for a solo sack in the fourth quarter. Parker, who had nine tackles on the night, also had a solo sack. Jon Hill also had nine tackles and a fumble recovery.
Rye Cove’s offense helped limit Blue Devils’ snaps by consuming the clock with 51 rushing for 268 yards.
Silas Bush led Warbird ball carriers, compiling 120 yards on 21 jaunts. He contributed 27 yards to Rye Cove’s first quarter scoring drive capped by Zach Wilson’s 16-yard TD run. Dakota Hood scooted outside for a 2-point conversion run and the 8-0 lead with 43.6 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Patric Fritz, who rushed for 73 yards on 13 attempts, contributed a 20-yard gain to the second quarter scoring drive putting Rye Cove ahead 14-0 with 5:53 remaining in the half.
Castlewood was an overwhelming favorite to win across the regional sports media spectrum. But Bush never doubted.
“I knew if we came out and played our hardest, we could win,” said Bush, who was a standout on both sides of the football.
Bush’s first big play of the game was at linebacker. He brought Castlewood’s opening possession to a startling end by intercepting a Hileman swing pass.
But the Blue Devils’ explosive passing attack didn’t go unrewarded forever. Hileman hit paydirt with Edmonds — who had three catches for 93 yards — moments after getting clobbered for an eight yard loss by the War Eagle pass rush. Brett Steffey’s PAT kick cut Rye Cove’s lead to 14-7 at the intermisison.
Late in the third quarter, Hileman shortened the field with two throws to Aaron Kennedy for a combined 50 yards. The drive ended with a Hileman 1-yard TD plunge. Steffey’s kick bounced off the crossbar to leave the Eagles up 14-13 with 11:19 remaining to play.
The two teams traded punts before Rye Cove’s offense finally bought some breathing room. Five snaps into the Eagles second possession of the final quarter, Bush converted a third and long with his 11-yard scramble to the 3-yard line.
Edmonds, who made the stop, was flagged for a personal foul. At half-distance, it only amounted to roughly a yard. Edmonds didn’t like the call and said so. The official liked what Edmonds said even less, flagging him again and tossing him from the game.
After Rollins’ scoring plunge, Kennedy kept the game within Castlewood’s reach by heroically keeping Fritz out of the end zone on the subsequent conversion pass attempt.
But having Edmonds off the routes made it easier for Rye Cove to keep track of Kennedy. Hileman whiffed the next four pass attempts and Rye Cove took over for good at two minutes and counting down.
“Every positive thing you can say about it happened for us tonight. And it was a whale of a football game, to boot,” said Rye Cove coach Tom Callaway.