Rangers have their way with Eagles

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR STAFF
mbirchfield@starhq.com
COSBY--Eagles are known for flying high above the clouds, but Cosby's Eagles came crashing down on Friday night as the Unaka Rangers grabbed their first conference win on the season in a 46-20 rout.
Unaka improved to 3-3 on the year with the win over Cosby, and for the first time since 1994 the Rangers appear to be on their way to the postseason.
"We came out and hit them in the mouth, and our offensive line did a great job of controlling the line of scrimmage," said Unaka coach Mike Ensor. "This should put us in the playoffs now, and we're at .500 with the most wins we've had since I've been here."
After an early mistake -- a fumble on their first possession -- the Rangers battled back to capture a turnover themselves, with Brandon Irick making a pick on a pass from Kelvin Rone.
Unaka capitalized off the turnover by driving down the field, and a 12-yard, end-around run from Cody Hurley gave the Rangers a 6-0 lead with 7:37 left in the first period.
Irick grabbed his second interception of the night when he ran down an over thrown pass from Levi Cooper.
"We were able to capitalize off of their mistakes early in the game, and we're doing a whole lot better in practice with our hand-off exchanges," said Irick. "We're more mentally focused and are working hard to get to the top."
A 15-yard run up the middle by Andrew Richardson set up an 11-yard run by Charles Lee Guinn, as the Rangers struck on the same kind of play as they scored on their previous drive.
Cosby had no chance of moving the ball on the ground, with the swarming Ranger defense stopping them for minus-17 yards on the night.
"Basically this team needs to do some soul-searching right now -- we don't have any kind of leadership," said Cosby coach Darrell Miller. "Unaka brought it to us, but we just don't have enough heart right now."
A drive from Unaka toward the end of the first period that carried over to begin the second nearly ended when a wobbly pass from Irick landed in the hands of a Cosby defender.
Guinn made an excellent play to wrestle the ball away and keep the drive going, then Joey Parlier crossed the goal line from two yards out for the Rangers' third touchdown of the evening.
Cosby was finally able to make a first down during the second quarter when Richard Worley converted a third-and-one with a four-yard run.
The drive was shortlived though as Chris Richardson made his way in the backfield to drop Cooper for a 10-yard loss, making the sack.
"We all played well -- the line was blocking and the backs ran well," said Richardson. "We've been working really hard in practice and I think we can carry the momentum over to next week."
After a punt by Terry Campbell trapped Cosby down around its own 10-yard line, the Eagles, on their next possession, again felt the pressure of the Ranger defense.
Senior Tory Morton knocked down Cooper at the five, which forced Cosby to punt out of its own end zone and gave the Rangers excellent field position.
"Our team has a lot better attitude coming into practice now, and I just think our positive attitude has been the difference here of late," said Morton.
With the half winding down the Rangers started to having a little trouble hanging onto the ball, but they were able to recover two or their own fumbles.
Unaka decided to go to the air on a third-and-long play, which turned into a 20-yard touchdown, with Irick hitting a wide-open Brent Huskins.
"We knew we had to come out and get all over them and keep it that way," said Huskins. "We didn't want to let them come back like we let Hurley do at the first of the year. We've been working more and more in practice on our passing, and Irick just threw me the perfect pass."
The Rangers had posted a 28-0 lead at halftime and amazingly put up 215 total yards of offense to Cosby's minus-20 yards.
"It's hard to hit a hole when it isn't there, and our line is not doing a good job of maintaining their blocks," said Miller. "Once we initiate contact, then we just quit, thinking that the play is over with."
The fullbacks continued to pound the Eagle defense in the second half, with Richardson breaking through the line for a 25-yard touchdown run.
Both Richardson and Parlier finished the night with over 100 yards, while their featured back Guinn sat on the sidelines with an ankle injury.
"All of our backs did a good job and ran hard," said Ensor. "Charles wanted to come back in the second half, but there was no reason to put him out there and risk furthering his injury."
Cosby finally put points on the board with 4:46 left in the third as Cooper hit Rone on a 16-yard fade route to the right side of the end zone.
Unaka came back to answer after Irick made a 22-yard run, which was followed up by a 5-yard touchdown from Parlier.
The Eagles' most productive play on offense all night was the trick hook and ladder play, which gained them more than half of their offensive yards.
A pass from Cooper to Rone, and then a pitch to Worley went 68 yards for Cosby's second touchdown of the night.
Richardson scored his second touchdown of the game with 6:20 left in the contest, as the two big bruising Unaka fullbacks combine for a total of four on the night.
Cosby added another touchdown late in the game on a 1-yard run from Worley, as Unaka sets its sights on Oakdale next week trying to lift itself above the .500 mark.
"Defensively we played well, even though we should have worked on that pass play they ran -- they beat us with it two years ago," said Ensor. "Hopefully they won't think that we didn't sub early enough, but with some of the trickery and big plays they were getting I didn't quite think we had it put away in freezer yet."