Cole Elrod’s Thursday evening promised to be nothing short of miserable.
Whenever Hanover’s junior quarterback dropped back to pass, he found a raft of orange-jerseyed Monacan defenders bearing down on him with eyes a-blazing.
Whenever he ran the option or followed his staunch offensive line between the tackles on a keeper, the Chiefs cut him no slack.
Elrod responded, though. In fact, the visitors’ relentless pursuit hardly seemed to faze him.
In leading the resurgent Hawks to a 20-7 victory in the season opener for both squads, Elrod rushed 33 times for 141 yards and a touchdown, completed 9 of 16 passes for 82 yards and two scores, and never lost his composure despite the intense heat the Chiefs administered or the repeated blows they delivered to his 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame.
“Cole did a really good job,” said Hanover coach Sam Rogers. “He got put in some bad situations, and he just found a way to make a play.
“Cole gets us out of a lot because he’s so athletic and so calm. He never panics. He’s a gamer. He never lets the moment get too big for him. He stayed locked in the entire game.”
Monacan scored first when Keyshawn Jefferson sprinted 77 yards for a touchdown at 1:43 of the first quarter. Camden Richardson’s point-after gave the Chiefs a 7-0 lead, but not for long.
On the ensuing possession on this cool, low-humidity late-summer night, Elrod took the Hawks 50 yards in five plays, the last a 17-yard TD pass to Beau Sahnow with 31 seconds remaining in the first period.
Late in the half, Elrod engineered an 11-play, 60-yard drive that ended when he hit Jay Poole in the end zone from 18 yards out, then went off right tackle himself for the 2-point conversion to send the Hawks into halftime up 14-7.
“That was huge,” said Elrod of Poole’s reception. “It was a vertical-out combination. Jay Poole had the vertical. The slot receiver was supposed to run an out. I was looking at the out. I heard coach yell ‘Jay Poole’ on the sideline, so I just launched it up in the air. He made the play.”
Elrod scored the Hawks final TD on a 1-yard run at 2:14 of the final quarter one play after he converted a third-and-17 situation into a 26-yard completion to Poole, who made a leaping catch at the Monacan 1-yard line.
“My first route was to the left,” said Elrod of yet another clutch play. “I got flushed out right. I was going to scramble, but Jay Poole put his hand in the air, I toss it up to him, and he made an unbelievable catch. It was wonderful.”
Hanover amassed 282 yards of offense (204 rushing, 78 passing) on 63 plays. The Chiefs had 217 yards (155 rushing, 62 passing) on 44 plays.
“We were really dependent on our front seven,” said senior linebacker Jackson Currie of the Hawks’ defensive effort. “After he [Jefferson] broke that 70-yarder, we adjusted and stopped them really well.
“Conditioning wins football games. They had multiple times when they could have broken tackles, but we had 11 guys moving to the ball.”
Monacan 7 0 0 0 — 7
Hanover 6 8 0 6 — 20
Mon — Jefferson 77 run (Richardson kick)
Han — Sahnow 17 pass from Elrod (kick failed)
Han — Poole 18 pass from Elrod (Elrod run)
Han — Elrod 1 run (run failed)
Mon — Jefferson 11 carries, 145 yards, L. Wells 4-8, Shepherdson 2-3, Lynch 5-minus 1; Han — Elrod 35-141, Chadwick 6-32, Sahnow 5-30, Flora 1-1.
Mon — Lynch 10 completions, 22 attempts, 2 interceptions, 62 yards; Han — Elrod 9-16-0-82
Mon — G. Wells 3 receptions, 34 yards, Jefferson 7-28; Han — Poole 2-44, Sahnow 4-19, Flora 2-18, Fahed 1-1.