John Matt Justus got it done on both sides of the ball for the Hurley Rebels in their season opening win over the Rye Cove Eagles in Clinchport on Monday night. Justus ran for three touchdowns while Alex Duty went over the century mark and added a touchdown in the 36-28 win.
Rye Cove senior quarterback Mason Hardin got the Eagles on the board on their opening drive. Hardin scampered 30 yards to paydirt to put the Eagles up 6-0 early in the first quarter. Hurley responded with two touchdowns to take a 14-6 lead in to the locker room at halftime. Justus extended the Hurley lead with his second touchdown of the night as the lead ballooned to 22-6 in the third. Rye Cove refused to roll over as they would cut the lead to two. Zack Baker connected with 6’6 Ethan Chavez for a 30 yard touchdown pass to make the score 22-14. On the ensuing Hurley possession, freshman Jay Bowen showed quick hands as he plucked a Hurley fumble out of the air and raced thirty yards for a touchdown. The two point conversion failed but Rye Cove had cut the deficit to 22-20. The excitement from the scoop and score would soon wear off as Kevin Looney returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown and pushed the lead back to 30-20. Baker would try to keep the Eagles in the game as he added a 21 yard touchdown run to cut the deficit back to two at 30-28. Hurley would once again answer as Justus added his third touchdown of the night. This time from 6 yards out as Hurley held on for the 36-28 win.
“I’m really proud of my guys, they really battled and played physical all night.” Said Hurley head coach Austin Cooper. “We had some jitters on the first couple possessions but we were able to settle in and play under control. We obviously made some mistakes that we have to clean up but with no scrimmages and a short preseason those things are to be expected.”
Hurley amassed 363 rushing yards and didn’t attempt a single pass in the game. Rye Cove rushed for 173 yards and finished with 33 passing yards. Hardin led the Eagles on the ground with 129 yards and touchdown. Alex Duty finished with 117 rushing yards and a touchdown for Hurley while Justus finished with 191 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns and 10 tackles.
“Coach Osborne does a tremendous job, they came out ready to play.” Added Cooper. “Hats off to them, they played well and I think they’ll have a lot of success this year. We’re going to get back to work and try to build off this win. I just can’t say enough how proud I am of this young group of guys and their effort. Any time you have a young group and grab a win in week one, it’s huge for their confidence.”