The final score was a bit of a shock when Skyline routed Highland 41-21 on Friday night.
But what made the result even more surprising was how Skyline did it. The wishbone-running Eagles took to the air, shredding the Rams' pass defense in what was a stunningly one-sided game. Skyline quarterback Chase Dunford completed 8-of-12 passes for 245 yards, and five of his completions went for more than 15 yards.
So is Skyline becoming a passing team after all these years?
"That's a good question," said coach Roger DuPaix. "We hit some big plays and that's one thing the wishbone offense does. If they (defenses) bring a lot of people up, then if you can block and execute then you can make some big plays. That's what Chase did with some of his receivers."
Dunford was in tune with wideout Brian Orr and fullback Alge Brown throughout the night. The play that sparked Skyline's offense came late in the first quarter when Dunford hit Orr with a 38-yard pass. It occurred during the Eagles' first scoring drive that culminated with a 2-yard touchdown run by Brown.
That started a run of six consecutive scoring possessions for the Eagles with their passing game playing an integral part. Orr scored on a 22-yard run on a well-timed reverse, and Skyline pretty much put the game out of reach when Dunford hit Orr with a 30-yard touchdown strike as time expired in the first half. The score gave Skyline a 21-7 lead heading into the break.
The win ended what was a five-game losing streak for Skyline against Highland with all five of the games being decided by seven points or less.
"It's been a while since we beat those guys, so it's a good feeling," Brown said.
It was easily Skyline's best and most complete effort of the season. The Eagles were somewhat lethargic in their season-opening win over Hurricane and in their devastating loss to Olympus last week. But thanks to some better conditioning, Skyline clicked in all phases on Friday night.
"I think the first two games our kids just seemed like they weren't in very good shape," DuPaix said. "Tonight, they played like they had better conditioning. Their legs were a little bit liver. It seemed like we were finally in game condition."
Those fresher legs helped the offensive line block better for Dunford, Brown and Orr to star against Highland. Brown caught three passes for 139 yards, including an 83-yard touchdown early in the third quarter. Orr had five receptions for 106 yards. Dunford added a 24-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and finished with 96 rushing yards.
"I knew we'd have to score a lot of points to beat Highland," DuPaix said. "I'm just really proud of the kids right now. I thought the defense played better than they have all year and I think the offense did too."
Toi Taufa led Highland's offense with 70 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
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