THORNVILLE — Reid Packer and Caden Sheridan were quite the pair — Friday night was no different.
Sheridan’s two dual-threat quarterbacks combined for 312 rushing yards and five touchdowns as the top-ranked generals knocked out eighth-seeded Washington Court House 60-34 in a quarter-final of Division III, Region 11 at Paul Culver Jr. Stadium.
The Generals rushed for 527 yards and took advantage of 14 Blue Lion penalties totaling 140 yards. That more than offset a 366-yard passing performance from Blue Lions quarterback Troy Thompson, who completed 31 of 52 with 3 touchdowns.
“We had to credit our offensive line today,” said Packer, who had 144 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. “Once our line started to get physical with them, we knew we were going to have some big plays.”
It was running back Alex Poirier who powered the Generals’ running game after finding the end zone four yards out to put Sheridan up 7-0 early on first.
The Blue Lions responded on their next drive to tie it at 7 with 3:24 left in the first after Thompson rushed for a 13-yard touchdown.
Sheridan regained the lead on Justin Munyan’s 8-yard run with 10 seconds left in the first quarter, but kicker Spencer Showalter’s kick was blocked at the line of scrimmage.
Receiver Tanner Lemaster used his long, long reach to carry Thompson’s first passing touchdown of the night. The University of Kentucky commitment knocked out Andrew Holden in the end zone, and kicker RJ Foose gave the Blue Lions their first lead, 14-13, 4:46 into the second. The 10-play drive covered 98 yards after Sheridan was intercepted at Blue Lions 2.
The Generals have been resilient all year and coach Paul Culver III put the ball in the hands of his playmakers. Packer gave the Generals the lead with 2:11 left in the second, scoring on the 18 of the Blue Lions. Showalter’s kick was good, making it 20-14 Generals.
Sheridan followed by forcing his first turnover of the game. AJ Winders caught Thompson’s pass to the Blue Lions 19, and a few plays later Packer added his second touchdown of the night from 13 yards as the lead increased to 27-14 entering the break.
Defensively, Sheridan’s primary approach was to keep Blue Lions receivers at bay and deny quick scores. Holden beat Thompson at the Sheridan 40 and sent him deep into Blue Lions territory which set up Munyan, who extended the lead to 33-14 three games later.
Holden knew matchups in the secondary were key to maintaining the Blue Lions’ talented receiving corps.
“We knew it would be difficult to contain them all night,” Holden said. “We just had to keep the big game ahead of us. Their quarterback (Thompson) had over 2,000 passing yards this season. We knew what we were getting into. »
Isaiah Haithcock hit a 6-yard reception from Thompson at 5:25 of the third to cut the Generals’ lead to 33-20, but the Blue Lions were outplayed up front.
Sheridan added two rushing touchdowns late in the third quarter to eclipse any Blue Lions rally, then returned to the end zone early in the fourth.
Caden Sheridan finished with 168 rushing yards on 12 carries and three scores, while Holden added eight tackles to his impressive night.
Sheridan is now turning the page to a regional semi-final with Carroll Bloom-Carroll, who outscored Tri-Valley, 20-7. The Bulldogs, a Final Four team in Division IV for the past two seasons, and the Generals will play at 7 p.m. next Friday and the site will be announced on Sunday.
“They’ve had a lot of success over the last few years, and we know what we’re going to face with them,” Culver III said. “It’s almost like looking in a mirror with them, we play hard in defense and manage the ball well.”