Sunday, February 25, 2024

Eagles defeat C-Z-R, eligible for playoffs

By Mike McGinnis 

A couple of weeks ago, after the Vienna-Goreville varsity football team had beaten Elverado-Trico to boost its record to 4-1, head coach Mike Rude commented about how great it would be to get a fifth win and be eligible for the play-offs, saying “it would get the program over the hump.”  The Eagles got over that hump last Saturday as they defeated Christopher-Zeigler-Royalton by the score of 43-14, on Senior Day at Vienna, pushing their record to 5-2. Prior to the start of the game, after the seniors had been introduced, coach Rude was presented with a jersey in honor of his 200th career win, which came in week #4, when V-G beat Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn.

Against C-Z-R, the Eagles’ offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage from the start, allowing V-G to rack up over 400 yards rushing. The Eagles offense was forced to punt just once, and that was not until near the end of the third quarter.

The Eagles drove 65 yards and took an 8-0 lead at the 6:09 mark of the first quarter, when Caleb Miles scored on a one yard run and Caleb Belcher ran for the conversion. The Bearcats received the ensuing kick-off and moved into V-G territory. The Eagles defense came up with a big play on fourth down, when Blake Gray tackled the Bearcat ball carrier for a five yard loss, giving V-G possession at its own 44 yard line. From there, the Eagles went on a 10 play, 56 yard drive that Connor Seavers completed with a six yard touchdown run, on the second play of the second quarter.  Mason Bishop kicked the extra point to push V-G’s lead to 15-0. The Eagles made it 23-0 with an 89 yard drive that Kyefer Cavins finished off with a 10 yard touchdown run and Seavers carried for the extra points. A key play in the drive came when Belcher followed good down field blocks by Wyatt Miles and Dallas Melot for a 15 yard run, moving the ball into Bearcat territory. C-Z-R scored on a one yard run near the end of the period to trail 23-6 at the half.

Cavins made a nice return of the second half kick-off, bringing it out to the Bearcats’ 47 yard line.  Nine plays later, Seavers scored his second touchdown on a seven yard run, and Bishop’s kick made it 30-6. V-G took advantage of a short Bearcat punt with a 27 yard drive that Hayden McClain completed with an eight yard run at the 8:32 mark of the fourth quarter. Bishop’s kick was again good, increasing the Eagle’s lead to 37-6. C-Z-R then scored on a seven yard touchdown run and pass for the extra points to make the score 37-14. Caleb Miles closed out the scoring on a run from five yards out, with 3:01 left in the game.  Bishop’s kick attempt was blocked to make the 43-14 final margin.

After the game, coach Rude praised the seniors who had stuck with the program, saying “we are indebted to the seniors.” He also commended the entire team as he said “I couldn’t be prouder of a group of kids; what you’ve accomplished is fantastic.”

Caleb Belcher led the rushing attack with 115 yards on 15 carries. Connor Seavers had 108 yards and Kyefer Cavins added 84 yards.  Caleb Miles contributed 55 yards and Hayden McClain ran six times for 41 yards.

The varsity Eagles play this Friday at Eldorado at 7 p.m. The freshman team hosts Eldorado this Thursday (Oct. 11) and the sophomore squad is at home against Eldorado next Monday (Oct. 15), with both games starting at 4:30 p.m.