FRANKLIN – Brad Davis paused for few moments as he searched for something to say shortly after his Eaton football team suffered a disappointing 22-15 overtime loss to host Franklin Friday night in the Southwestern Buckeye League opener for both teams.
Davis knew his team faced an uphill battle with limited numbers, but the final result still hurt nonetheless.
“It’s a tough one,” Davis said after the game. “I told them I was proud of them. We kind of challenged them going into the game. They’re (Franklin) two-platooning and we’re playing a handful of guys. We knew that going into it. It was a tough kind of game. I told them I was proud of them because I thought they met that challenge.
Eaton, which trailed most of the second half, forced the extra-period by scoring on a 3-yard touchdown run by quarterback Lew Bowser with 4:31 left in the fourth quarter. Bowser then connected with Ghye Wilson for a successful two-point conversion pass to knot the game at 15-all.
In the overtime, the Wildcats scored on a 9-yard run by sophomore Ryan Montgomery and after a successful point after try, Franklin led 22-15.
Eaton’s first and only offensive possession ended with Bowser being sacked on a 4th down play.
Franklin struck first in the contest with Ryan Knipper scoring on an 18-yard run to give the ‘Cats a 7-0 lead with 2:20 left in the first quarter.
A Shelby Ward interception of a Franklin pass and long return set the Eagles up for their first score midway through the second quarter.
Damon Willard capped the drive with a 6-yard TD run with 5:26 left in the first half.
The two teams appeared to be headed to halftime tied, but an errant snap sailed over Eaton punter Donnie Nicodemus’ head and out of the end zone for a safety with 2:28 left in the opening half, giving the Wildcats a 9-7 lead.
Franklin extended its lead to 15-7 on the first possession of the second half with a 37-yard TD run by Montgomery.
Eaton punted on its next two possessions, while the Wildcats turned the ball over on downs and missed a field goal.
It was after the missed field goal that Eaton marched 80 yards, taking nearly 7 minutes off the clock before Bowser scored to set up the overtime.
“Just a couple of mistakes here or there, a couple of missed assignments here or there, it’s a turning point,” Davis said. “We tell them all the time you never know which play is going to be the big play and we were on the wrong side of that.”
Davis did see some bright spots.
“We definitely had some guys step up and make plays when we needed to have the plays made. Which was great to see,” Davis said. “It’s a tough one. It’s a tough one for sure.”
Bowser finished the game completing 11-of-16 passes for 71 yards. He also rushed for 77 yards on 14 carries. Willard had 16 carries for 54 yards. Ward caught five passes for 37 yards.
Eaton (1-3, 0-1 SWBL Southwestern) is scheduled to travel to Bellbrook Friday, Sept .25. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.