OXFORD — The Eaton Eagles football team earned its first win of the season with a 32-14 victory over Talawanda on Friday, Sept. 9, in Oxford.
“We played pretty well overall,” coach Brad Davis said after the game. “We were able to build up some points early in the game and that gave us an advantage.”
Quarterback Lew Bowser had solid game for the Eagles, rushing for two touchdown runs and passing for a third. He racked up a total of 187 yards in the air on 14 completions out of 27 passes, and 67 yards rushing on 13 carries.
“He really played well in the game,” Davis said.
Bowser also had two interceptions on the night to help set up a pair of touchdown drives against the Braves.
The game opened with neither team breaking into the end zone until Talawanda muffed a punt return which was recovered by the Eagles.
In just a few plays, Bowser scrambled in for the first score of the game.
Later in the quarter, Bowser picked off his first Talawanda pass of the night, returning the ball close to the red zone. The Eagles’ drive ended with senior running back Connor Gowanny crossing the goal line for Eaton’s second touchdown.
Both point-after attempts for Eaton failed, and the Eagles led 12-0 at the end of the first quarter.
“I think we felt pretty good at the end of the quarter,” said Davis. “We put together some nice drives and made some defensive stops, so it was the boost that we needed.”
The second quarter saw both teams’ defenses step up, causing a number of three-and-out drives through much of the quarter. But shortly afterward, Bowser ran in for his second touchdown past several defenders. The PAT failed again, but Eaton was now up 19-0.
On the Braves’ next possession, Bowser snagged his second interception of the night and brought it back for a good return. The next drive saw Bowser connect with his favorite receiver, Ghye Wilson, for a reception which scored Eaton’s fourth touchdown in the first half.
This time, the PAT kick split the uprights and gave the Eagles a comfortable 26-0 lead.
The comfort soon lessened, as Talawanda staged a long drive by converting several fourth down conversions, ending in the Braves’ first touchdown in the game.
At halftime, the score was 26-6 in the Eagles’ favor.
“We had a decent lead in the first half, but we got a bit sloppy on defense which allowed a touchdown going into the break,” said Davis. “But all in all, we did well.”
The third quarter saw very little offensive production by either team, as neither mounted a serious drive for points beyond one drive by the Braves which ended by turnover on downs.
Bowser threw an errant pass into the hands of a Talawanda defender, but the Eagle defense held firm to fight off the mistake. In the fourth quarter, Talawanda scored a touchdown to make the score 26-14. On the ensuring kickoff, Talawanda tried an onside kick to regain the ball, only to see the ball bounce into the hands of Eaton sophomore linebacker Payton Sutton, who wiggled past the wall of oncoming coverage and scrambled 45 yards in for a touchdown.
“We made an emphasis on the turnover battle, and this time we won that,” said Davis. “Two takeaways by us led to two touchdowns for us. After the game, I told the team to celebrate up until tomorrow. Normally, we go by our rule of ‘celebrate for 24 hours,’ but we have the league games next, so we need to get back to work soon as possible.”
Running back Caleb Puckett ran for 121 yards on 22 carries for the Eagles. Gowanny had 10 carries for 28 yards and a lone touchdown. Aaron Tolliver had 11 yards on two carries, and Wilson had one carry for three yards. Wilson led in receving once again, with six catches for 88 yards and a touchdown. Brayden Shanefeld and Zac Schmidt each had four catches, and Alex Almeyda-Roe had one catch for 22 yards.
The win is the first this season for Eaton who now stands at 1-2. They will begin playing in Southwestern Buckeye League competition, starting on Friday, Sept. 16, at home against Southwestern Division foe Franklin.