MIDDLETOWN — The Raiders would simply not go away.
Class 2A No. 2 Eastern Hancock entered Friday’s game against Class A No. 9 Shenandoah allowing a measly 12 points per contest.
That all changed against the Raiders’ explosive offense Friday, though, as the Royals faced their first real test of the reason against a Shenandoah squad averaging 39 points and 456 yards of offense per game.
The Raiders hung with Eastern Hancock through three quarters but could not hold on as the Royals secured a 42-27 road win at Dale Green Field. Junior running back Devin Denny scored four touchdowns and ran for 215 yards to lead the Royals (8-0).
“It was a great battle,” Eastern Hancock head coach Jim O’Hara said. “We were fortunate to beat a very good football team. It was a total team win. Our offense played really great.
“Devin is a talented kid with a lot of heart.”
O’Hara knew Shenandoah’s (6-2) wing-T offense would be difficult to stop. Fortunately, the Royals have plenty of athletes.
Senior linebacker Owen Hunt contained the outside and made a big play in the fourth quarter as Eastern Hancock cruised to its 14th straight regular-season victory dating back to 2014.
After a scoreless first quarter, both offenses erupted for 37-combined points in the second. Denny rushed for two scores and caught another from sophomore quarterback Jarett Lewis to give the Royals at 22-15 lead at the break.
Denny finished with 163 yards on 11 rushes in the half, but Shenandoah’s Dalton Hatcher was equally impressive, rushing 10 times for 145 yards and two scores of his own.
The Raider’s junior running back, who passed 1,000 yards rushing for the season Friday, scored the first touchdown of the game, a 56-yard scamper with 10:03 left until halftime.
Denny would quickly answer, however, with 48- and 68-yard touchdowns runs to give Eastern Hancock a 14-8 advantage. Dalton and Hatcher would trade scores again as the Royals took a one score lead into the intermission.
“Their offense is designed to attack everywhere,” O’Hara added. “If you don’t do you job, you’re going to have trouble defending it.”
Hatcher brought the Raiders to within one, 22-21, with a score to open to second half, but Lewis would find senior Matt Bowman down the left sideline for a 44-yard touchdown pass on the ensuing possession to answer.
Lewis finished with 174 passing yards and two touchdowns, while Bowman added 85 all-purpose yards and several key short-down runs.
Shenandoah would tack on a score early in the fourth quarter, but scores from Lewis and Denny and an onsides kick recovery from Hunt with just over two minutes remaining would seal the win.