By LLOYD COMBS
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
HURLEY, Va. —
Whether Caleb Riner rolls to his left or right, when he’s on his game Eastside rolls.
The senior quarterback three touchdown passes and ran for two scores to lead the Spartans past Hurley, 40-26, in non-district play Friday at Smiley Ratliff Field at The Cliff.
Riner was 14-of-18 passing for 247 yards, turning potential sacks into big plays and third downs into first downs on several occasions.
“Riner is probably the best quarterback I’ve seen a while at this level,” Hurley coach Greg Tester said. “Our defense was in position, he just made some great plays. He bought time to make them.”
Riner gave Eastside (2-0) the lead for good with a 3-yard TD run less than four minutes into the game.
Hurley took advantage of an Eastside fumble and got within 7-6 on a 2-yard touchdown run by Dillion Bailey, who led the Rebel offense with 17 carries for 105 yards.
Riner went back to work, tossing a 58-yard TD pass to Justin Banks later in the opening period and threw two more scoring strikes in the second quarter to give the Spartans a 27-6 halftime lead.
“Riner came out to play tonight,” Eastside coach Matthew Hamilton said. “He made some good passes.
“When you’ve got a third-year quarterback who knows the offense as well, if not better than the coaches that’s what you rely on. He spreads the ball around well.”
Riner hit a wide open Ben Yates twice, on a 54-yarder and a 13-yarder for scores.
“Ben’s really athletic. He’s been struggling to catch it, but he’s come around,” said Riner, who escaped Hurley pressure on the pocket and on roll-outs. “We had trouble running the ball so we had to get our passing game going.
“It just kind of opened up for us. Ben played an amazing game.”
Riner was 3-of-4 passing for 55 yards on a 9-play, 78-yard drive that put the game out of Hurley’s reach on the first possession of the second half.
Eastside’s first-team defense gave up just the one short-field scohalf its 215 rushing yards in the fourth quarter.
“Our first group on defense played really well,” Hamilton added. “You’ve got Dalton Sexton, Dillon meade, Cody Mitchell, Tom craiger, we’ve got a bunch of seniors playing in there and they’re pretty solid.”
Freshmen Devin Tester scored two touchdowns and Brady Justice added one in the 4:40 for Hurley (1-1).
Yates added a 76-yard kickoff return for the final Eastside TD.
“You just can’t give up big plays like that and have a chance to win.” Tester added.
Smiley Ratliff Field at The Cliff.
Eastside............................13 14 7 6 — 40
Hurley..................................6 0 0 20 — 26
E-Riner 6 run (Hill kick)
H-Bailey 2 run (run failed)
E-Banks 58 pass from Riner (kick failed)
E-Yates 54 pass from Riner (Riner run)
E-Yates 13 pass from Riner (kick failed)
Riner 3 run (Hill kick)
H-Tester 34 run (run failed)
E-Yates 76 kickoff ret. (kick failed)
H-Tester 9 run (Estep run)
H-Justice 7 run
First Downs: E 13, H 15; Rushes-Yards: E 31-74, H 44-215; Passing Yards: E 247, H 58; Comp-Att-Int: E 14-18-0, H 3-10-0; Fumbles-Lost: E 4-3, H 7-1; Penalties-Yards: E 6-47, H 0-0; Punts-Average: E 1-30, H 3-38.0.