Bulldogs Shut Down Eagles

Bulldogs shut down Eagles

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Norfolk Academy’s Hunter Wagnon did it all in a 32-6 victory over Covenant Thursday afternoon.

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound senior ran the ball 27 times for 107 yards and three touchdowns. He played middle linebacker solidly, helping slow down what’s been a potent Covenant rushing attack and laying several big-time hits. He even played special teams, lining up as an edge blocker on field goals and extra points.

Norfolk Academy's Hunter Wagnon powers forward against Covenant Thursday afternoon as Daniel Crawford (9) zones in.

It was an old school performance and an injury-riddled Covenant squad couldn’t find an answer for Wagnon or the Bulldogs.

“He’s our best football player by far, he’s big, he runs with power and he also has some elusiveness,” said Norfolk Academy coach Steve Monninger. “But the best part about him is he doesn’t go down after first contact.”

Covenant suffered another in a string of injuries when Drew Gaffney went out with a shoulder injury early Thursday. The injuries have started to impact the offensive flow that had the Eagles going during a three-game win streak that ended against Blue Ridge last week.

“I think a lot of the problems with our offense is we have a lot of injuries,” said Covenant coach Dave Rocco. “We have all these guys in there who are new and playing positions they don’t normally play and therefore creates a lot of confusion.”

The injuries included forcing Covenant to play John Meade, an emerging threat at tight end in the interior of the line among other personnel shifts.

The Eagles were reeling early when Norfolk Academy marched quickly to a touchdown on its first drive after a big punt return gave them good field position. Wagnon pounded it in and then the Bulldogs tacked on a 2-point conversion to cap the drive.

But a savvy timeout by Rocco kept the Eagles in it on Norfolk Academy’s next drive. The timeout immediately led to a renewed effort by the Covenant defense and a turnover on downs by the Bulldogs. Covenant then put together a drive of its own which Jaime Gaston finished off with a touchdown.

But the 8-6 lead was as close as the Eagles got. Norfolk Academy turned it over to Wagnon from there and got big plays from Brian Shivers and Tyler Holmes. Shivers had a 77-yard catch and run where he reversed field on a swing pass and the raced down the sideline. Covenant finally knocked the sophomore out inside the five yardline, but Wagnon finished off his third score of the night and a 25-6 lead.

“Shivers is our playmaker no question about it,” Monninger said. “He’s got three defensive touchdowns on the season, he’s pretty electric.”

Holmes finished with 69 yards and a touchdown on six catches.

Covenant struggled to stretch the field and Wagnon’s impact at middle linebacker held Gaston to 65 yards and Brady Doyle to 90 yards while he went 13-for-23.

Covenant’s road doesn’t get easier as the Eagles face Virginia Episcopal, the No. 1-ranked squad in Division III, on the road next week.

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