EATON — Eaton junior running back Caleb Puckett rushed for 151 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Eagles to a 22-7 come-from-behind win over visiting Talawanda on Friday, Sept. 8.
Eaton trailed 7-0 at the half, before taking command of the game in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles had the ball just three times in the first half, resulting in a pair of punts and turning the ball over on downs inside the Talawanda 20.
Eaton forced Talawanda to punt on its first two offensive possessions.
On the Braves third series, they converted a fake punt on fourth down, which kept the drive going, and eventually led to a score.
The Braves appeared ready to add another score late in the half, but the Eagles defense held at the goal line as time expired.
“There’s a huge difference between going in at half down seven than down 14,” Eaton coach Brad Davis said. “Defensively, we could rally around our effort in the first half, we just needed to tackle better.”
In the second half, Eaton forced the Braves into three turnovers. The first was an interception by Puckett, who returned the ball inside the Talawanda 10-yard line.
He scored the first of his touchdowns moments later on a 5-yard run with 4:18 left in the third to cut the Braves lead to 7-6. A mishandled snap prevented the Eagles from converting the point after attempt.
Eaton’s rose to the occasion the next time the Braves had the ball.
Aaron Tolliver delivered a big hit on the quarterback and forced a fumble and Jordan Lewis recovered for the Eagles second takeaway of the half.
The turnover didn’t result in points, but gave the Eagles a spark.
“We’re feeling good defensively at this point. We’re playing fast and tackling better and have turned them over in back-back possessions,” Davis said.
After forcing a punt, Eaton’s offense puts together its second scoring drive of the game, capped off by a 15-yard TD run by Puckett with 8:24 left in the game. Anna Black added the point after to give the Eagles a 13-7 lead.
Less than a 90 seconds later, Eaton scored on a safety for a 15-7 lead.
On its next possession, Eaton added its final score of the game on a 5-yard run by Puckett with 3:21 remaining.
Seth Hodapp sealed the outcome with an interception on the next series for the Eagles third takeaway in the second half.
“Offensively, we moved the ball pretty much all night. We still have too many drive-killers,” Davis said. “We have to get these issues fixed as we head into league play. Defensively, I like the way we played in the second half. Obviously, winning the takeaway/turnover battle, 3-0, we give ourselves a good chance to win the ball game. I think we handled the adversity of being down at halftime and coming out with some energy (in the second half) was good to see. We kind of challenged the guys after last week’s game, in terms of defending our home field. We knew Talawanda would come in here fired up and ready to go and we needed to take their best shot and fire back. I think we did that.”
Eaton (2-1) will open league play on Friday, Sept. 15, with a visit to Franklin.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH