STAUNTON — Fort Defiance displayed a powerful ground game Friday night and ran past the Staunton Storm, 46-26, in the Shenandoah District opener for both teams

After a two-year hiatus, Staunton and Fort renewed the city-county rivalry Friday evening and the Indians proved to be too much for the Storm to handle.

“It felt good to be playing Staunton again,” said Fort head coach Dan Rolfe. “The proximity of all the teams in our district now makes things exciting on Friday night for the teams and the fans.”

Running back Trevor Bartley did most of the damage for the Indians as he rushed for 222 yards and four touchdowns on 22 carries. Quarterback Austin Monroe rushed for 100 yards while also adding a 71-yard touchdown pass to Addison Knicely.

“Our backs ran hard and those guys on the offensive line played their butts off tonight,” Rolfe added. “Lee does a lot of different things on defense and they confused us at times, but we made some adjustments and the line hung in there and made some blocks.”

The Storm took the opening kickoff and moved the chains once before Fort came up with a turnover when Donald Seekford picked off a pass, giving the visitors the ball at midfield. On second down, Monroe scampered 47 yards for the touchdown to put Fort on the scoreboard.

Another Staunton miscue, this one a snap over quarterback Will Dod’s head, forced the Storm to punt from deep in its own territory. A short punt gave Fort the ball at the Staunton 41 and set up the Indians’ second score. A 27-yard run by Monroe moved the ball to the 12 and two plays later Bartley scored from 4 yards out, making the score 12-0.

Staunton answered with a big play to get back in the game when Kaden Williams returned the ensuing kickoff 91 yards to paydirt. Ryan Bosserman added the extra point to trim Fort’s lead to 12-7 with five minutes remaining in the first quarter.

The Storm took their only lead of the night early in the second period with a 54-yard drive. With the ball at the Fort 34, Dodd had trouble handling a low snap out of the shotgun. The Staunton quarterback gained control of the ball and lofted a pass down the left sideline for Rik’Avian Carey. Carey hauled in the pass after it was tipped and trotted into the end zone Bosserman’s PAT made it 14-12 .

The lead didn’t last long as Fort answered with a 64-yard scoring drive, capped by Bartley’s 41-yard scoring run. Bartley added the two-point conversion for a 20-14 Indians’ lead with 6:42 left in the first half.

Staunton responded with an impressive drive, moving from its 20 to the Fort 16-yard line. A 22-yard pass to Tyler Derozen and a 10-yard strike to Carey moved the ball past midfield. After a holding penalty, Dod ripped off a 39-yard run to the Fort 16. Two plays later, Dod took a hard hit at the 10 and put the ball on the ground. Bartley recovered the fumble for the Indians at the 9-yard line to end the Staunton threat.

Following the fumble recovery, Fort moved the football out to the 29. Monroe then connected with Knicely on a quick slant and Knicely took it the distance for a 71-yard scoring play and a 26-14 Fort lead.

The Indians took the second-half kickoff and marched 71 yards to pad the lead. A 28-yard carry by Knicely moved the ball into Staunton territory and Bartley capped the drive with a 26-yard run, increasing the lead to 32-14.

Staunton answered late in the third quarter when a 50-yard run by Dod put the Storm in business at the Fort 23. A 13-yard pass to Carey gave Staunton a first-and-goal at the 10 and Naquanne Johnson scored on the next play, cutting the Indians’ cushion to 32-20.

Bartley continued to torment the Staunton defense on the next series. His 35-yard scamper gave Fort a first down at the Storm 24. A holding penalty moved the ball back to the 36 before an 18-yard gain by Monroe put the ball at the 18. After Monroe was dropped for a 5-yard loss, Bartley did the rest with runs of 7, 5 and 10 yards finishing off the drive. Bartley added the conversion run, making the score 40-20.

Each team added a touchdown in the final quarter. Jeffry East added a 4-yard TD run for the Indians and Johnson scored on a 32-yard run for Staunton, making the final score 46-26.

“Give Staunton credit. We knew they had some playmakers and they made some big plays,” Rolfe said. “Their quarterback (Dod) is one good high school quarterback. He made some plays, but for the most part I thought our defense was able to limit what they did.”

With the victory, Fort is now 4-2 on the season. “Our kids our playing hard. We got our first win in the Shenandoah District tonight, We’re 4-2 and playing some good football.”

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