EATON — For Eaton football coach Brad Davis a handful of plays made the difference in his team’s season opening game against visiting Greenville.
Although containing Green Wave senior running back Landon Eldridge proved to be one the biggest differences or Eaton, the other was the loss of senior quarterback Ryan Venable to a season-ending arm injury midway through the second quarter.
Eldridge rushed for 215 yards on 19 carries and four touchdowns in leading the Green Wave to a 40-7 win Friday, Aug. 24.
Eldridge had rushing touchdowns of 29, 1, 55 and 6 yards in the game. He had three of his touchdowns and more than half of his total yards just in the first half.
“In a game, it doesn’t matter what the score is, there’s always that handful of plays that really determine either the momentum or possibly the outcome of the game. We don’t know when those plays are coming. We’ve got to treat every play as though its like that play,” Davis said.
“I’m pretty certain we’re going to see on film it comes down to a handful of plays, be it a missed coverage, a missed block, a missed tackle or whatever. If we can take those plays away I think it’s a different outcome.”
Eldridge got the Green Wave rolling at the 7:37 mark of the first quarter with a 29-yard touchdown run to put GHS up 6-0. Ethan Flanery’s PAT was blocked. On Greenville’s next possession, Tyler Beyke connected with Marcus Wood for a 34-yard touchdown strike and the Wave had a 13-0 lead.
Eaton avoided falling behind by three scores when Zac Schmidt intercepted a Greenville pass near the Eaton goal line early in the second quarter.
On the next series, Eaton lost Venable (broken arm), who was trying to make a tackle after an Eagle turnover with 6:57 left in the half.
When play resumed, Eldridge added two more scores before half to give Greenville a 27-0 lead.
He plunged into the end zone for a 1-yard score with 2:58 left in the first half. A quick three-and-out by the Greenville defense and the offense got one more chance before the break and Eldridge had his biggest run of the night for 55 yards and his third touchdown with 42 ticks left in the half. Eldridge unofficially had 143 yards rushing in the first half to go along with his three scores.
When he wasn’t handing the ball off to Eldridge, Beyke had a plethora of other weapons to choose from including Wood, Di’Maurye Ewing, John Butsch and Tony Sells. Beyke even had a few carries for himself to the tune of 68 yards. Wood was his favorite receiving target with 6 catches for 108 yards and a touchdown. Ewing was the second leading rusher behind Eldridge with 20 carries for 103 yards and the Wave’s final touchdown of the game, a 6-yarder late in the fourth quarter.
The defense did its job as well holding Eaton to under 100 yards rushing as a team. The Eagles did manage to find the end zone, however. Trailing 33-0 in the third quarter, Tyler Gregory burst to the outside and went 50 yards for a touchdown. He was the teams’ leading rusher with 49 yards on just three carries.
“Credit to Greenville. That’s a really good Greenville team. They’re physical football team. They’ve got a nice running game and they’re aggressive on defense. I don’t want to take anything away from them but we didn’t do ourselves any favors,” Davis said. “We made a lot of mental mistakes which then led to some physical mistakes.”
Eaton also suffered the loss of freshman Mac Harper, who appreared to injure his neck while being taken down by the facemask late in the fourth quarter.
“That’s the unfortunate part of it but it is a part of it. It’s rare to see that kind of thing happen especially twice in a game. It is a little bit of shock,” Davis said “Obviously, we’re thinking about those guys. Now have to have some guys step up and fill some pretty important roles.”
Eaton was scheduled to return to action on Friday, Aug. 31 with a trip to St. Henry. The Redskins rolled to a 22-0 win over Covington in Week 1.
(Editor’s note: Greenville Daily Advocate’s Skip Weaver contributed to this story)
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH