RURAL RETREAT, Va. – Patrick Henry football coach Mark Palmer placed an emphasis on the passing game this season.
That made quarterback Dakota Rector happy.
“I wanted to prove that I can throw the ball and show everybody that we’re not just a running team,” Rector said.
The 5-foot-11 Rector proved his point in style Friday as the Rebels blanked the Rural Retreat Indians 31-0 before a large homecoming crowd at Community Stadium.
Rector completed four of his five pass attempts for 104 yards and two scores off play-action fakes. He also ran for a score.
“Our offensive linemen have worked on pass blocking and I love spreading the ball around to my guys,” Rector said.
With Rural Retreat crowding up to nine defenders near the line of scrimmage, PH was forced to make a counter-attack.
The first strike came with eight seconds left in the first quarter when Rector hit 5-11 senior Cody Smith on a 46-yard scoring pass down the middle.
“We’ve been working on that route in practice, but we’ve haven’t thrown it this year,” Rector said. “My line blocked well on that play and all I had to do was get the ball up. Cody and I just know when a play is there.”
That radar clicked again at the 6:31 mark of the third quarter when Rector found Smith wide open for a 49-yard score. When Rector ran the ball in for the two-point conversion, PH had a 16-0 advantage.
“Those two pass plays really swung the momentum,” Rural Retreat coach Jamey Hughes said. “You’ve got to get people up in the box to slow down the run game of PH.”
The Rebels (6-0, 1-0) rushed for 198 yards, but it was the aerial attack that hurt the Indians.
“I’m sure they were working on that, and some of it probably had to do with us forcing their hand on defense,” Hughes said. “PH has really good size and they’ve got good skill guys. “
With potent senior running Zach Brown sidelined by an ankle injury for possibly the next four weeks, Smith supplied 71 yards rushing and 95 receiving.
“Having Zach out is a big loss, but we’ve got some young men who have stepped up,” Palmer said.
PH sophomore fullback Cody Pruitt bulled for 65 yards rushing while junior Ean Rhea supplied 36 yards receiving and nearly 10 stops at outside linebacker.
“Ean has had a monster year on both sides of the ball,” Palmer said. “He has big hands, catches the ball well and is tough to bring down.”
Rector said that Rhea makes an enticing target.
“Ean is always wanting the ball and I want it to give it to him,” Rector said.
Junior running back Lucas Brewer led the Indians (3-3, 1-1) with 39 yards rushing on 14 carries. Junior Wyatt Sage collected 23 yards on five carries before leaving midway through the second quarter with a bruise above his knee.
Senior Watt Cregger (6-2, 193) and junior Nathan Turner (5-11, 230) paced the RR defense.
“I liked our effort the entire game,” Hughes said. “We had a good drive going in the second quarter before we were slowed by a 15-yard penalty, but we kept battling.”
Hughes confirmed that junior running back Dorian Delp, who starred in last week’s win over Holston, is no longer with the program per the decision of the coaching staff.
Linebackers Hunter Wachob and Isaac Chaffin collected the bulk of the tackles for PH.
Palmer took delight in the signature performance of his quarterback, who moved into the lineup over the last six games of 2018.
“Dakota has waited for his time the past four years,” Palmer said. “Dakota is very smart and makes good decisions, and he’s proven that he has talent with his legs and arm.”
Rector is eager for more show-and-tell opportunities.
“With Zach out, I knew that someone had to step up and I kind of put that on my shoulders,” Rector said. “I’m feeling really confident.”
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Patrick Henry 8 0 16 7-31
Rural Retreat 0 0 0 0-0
PH –Smith 46 pass from Rector (Beeson run)
PH –Smith 49 pass from Rector (Rector run)
PH – Rector 2 run (Rhea pass from Rector)
PH – Smith 16 (Taylor kick)
First Downs: PH 18, RR 6; Rushes-Yards: PH 42-198, RR 32-75; Passing Yards: PH 150, RR 5; Comp-Att-Int.: PH 4-5-1, RR 2-6-1; Fumbles-Lost: PH 1-1, RR 4-0; Penalties-Yards: PH 6-35, RR 6-48; Punts-Average: PH 0-0 RR 4-26.