MADISON, W.Va. - Class AA No. 3 Robert C. Byrd made the most of the turf surface at No. 6 Scott on Friday, using its team speed to get a convincing 23-0 win over the Skyhawks in a game featuring teams separated by just one spot in the Secondary School Activities Commission playoff rankings.
The most vivid display of the Eagles' speed advantage in the match-up did not come when the Clarksburg-based team had the football. Instead, it was when Byrd (9-1) was on defense, where it held the Skyhawks (7-2) to just 106 rushing yards, nearly 200 yards below their season average.
"Almost everybody can move on our defense. They're running an offense we're not used to, and it wasn't like we were able to get ready for it in two days," Byrd first-year Coach Bruce Carey said. "We were just able to react to the ball and take on their players."
Byrd defenders were repeatedly able to beat Scott ball-carriers to the corner on running plays. Scott had just 41 first-half yards and three first downs as the Eagles perched on a 14-0 lead at the break.
The Eagles got on the board early after being held to a three-and-out on the opening possession of the game. Scott Levine's punt was fumbled deep in Scott territory, and six plays later senior quarterback Aaron Taylor hit Iziah Hill with a 6-yard touchdown pass that gave Byrd the only points it would need.
Taylor and Hill connected for two more touchdowns. Taylor hit his senior receiver - who finished with 99 receiving yards - for a 74-yard touchdown. They hooked up again in the third quarter on another 6-yard strike.
Taylor was 9-of-13 for 158 yards in the win.
Scott held its own on defense between the tackles. It was when Byrd was able to get to the edge that it picked up its biggest yardage and, on defense, kept the Skyhawks from sustaining a drive all night.
"I think they're a faster team than what we anticipated them to be," Scott Coach Shane Griffith said. "I think their defense starts with those two tackles. They're big and heavy kids, but they move pretty well. The middle linebacker moves well, and was all over the place."
Byrd senior middle linebacker Jermodd Garrett was a constantly disruptive force. He had three tackles for loss and recorded a sack of Skyhawk backup quarterback Tyler Jude in which Garrett sent Jude airborne from a shove, leading to an 18-yard loss.
Jude entered the game in the second half after Scott starter Cody Brown injured his knee on a quarterback sneak late in the second quarter.
"We've got speed in the secondary, and our linebackers are pretty fast," Garrett said. "There's not really too much to say about them other than we practice hard and try to play harder."
Scott junior Robert Bias, who leads the Skyhawks in rushing and had 915 yards entering the game, was held to five yards on nine carries. Cameron Loftus and Tristan Crone each had 52 yards to lead the team.
Byrd sophomore Ben D'Annunzio led all players with 146 rushing yards on 22 carries.
Scott finishes its regular season next week at home against Class AAA Logan (6-3). While the Skyhawks' hopes of hosting a first-round playoff game took a hit with the loss, the situation was made better by the Friday losses of Class AA No. 7 Frankfort, No. 8 Ritchie County and co-No. 9 Braxton County.
Byrd entered the game ranked fifth in the SSAC ratings, with the Skyhawks at No. 6. The top eight teams in each class earn the right to host first-round playoff games.
ROBERT C. BYRD 23, SCOTT 0