EATON – Brad Davis felt getting off to a good start was going to be key in his team’s quest to win its first playoff in game in a decade.
Davis, Eaton’s football coach, didn’t have to wait long for that to come to fruition.
The Eagles, the No. 11 seed, scored on their third offensive play of the game and the offense racked up yards and points in chunks en route to a 52-28 win over No. 22 seed Dayton Northridge on Saturday, Oct. 10, in a Division IV, Region 16 opening round playoff game.
“We wanted to get off to a fast start. That was kind of the game plan, not give them any life early, and I think we accomplished that and I think we exhaled just a little bit (late), which cannot do given this time of year,” Davis said.
The playoff win and appearance was Eaton’s first since the 2010 season, when the Eagles went 12-1 and reached the regional final.
Eaton senior quarterback Dawson Blaylock turned in solid performance completing 9-of-17 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 70 yards and another score.
Junior Josh Martin rushed for 106 yards on 7 carries and scored a touchdown. He also caught five passes for 119 yards and a score.
Junior Aiden Williams added two rushing touchdowns and 53 yards on 11 carries.
Senior Trevor Long had two catches for 119 yards and a score.
For the game, Eaton racked up nearly 500 yards of total offense.
“Josh was dynamic tonight,” Davis said. “Dawson threw the ball well. Missed one or two, but when we had to have a big play, we had a big playmaker show up so that was nice to see.”
It took the Eagles less than a minute to get on the scoreboard as Blaylock connected with Long for a 67-yard touchdown pass at the 9:37 mark of the first quarter for a 7-0 lead after sophomore Drew Michael’s extra-point was good.
Two possessions later, Blaylock hooked up with Martin on the first play of the second quarter for a 29-yard touchdown pass for a 14-0 lead with 11:54 to play in the half.
Eaton made it a 21-0 game just over three minutes later when Martin scored on an 11-yard run with 8:25 left in the half.
The Eagles added a 25-yard field goal by Michael on their next series for a 24-0 lead at the 4:13 mark.
The Bears responded with a 59-yard drive to trim their deficit to 24-6 with 1:21 left in the half.
Eaton, though, struck quickly on its next possession going 58-yards in two plays as Blaylock scored on a 15-yard run to make it a 31-6 contest.
Eaton fumbled the kickoff to begin the second half and Northridge took advantage.
The Bears took just under a minute off the clock while scoring in just two plays to make it a 31-14 game with 11:05 left.
Once again, Eaton responded on its next series.
Junior Ashton Geoit capped a 4-play, 57-yard drive, with a 1-yard TD run to push the Eagles lead to 38-14 with 9:37 to play in the third.
Eaton added another score, on its next possession, on a 5-yard TD run by Williams for a 45-14 lead with 3:11 left.
Northridge added another score just before the end of the quarter to close within 45-20.
Eaton’s final score of the game came on a 9-yard TD run by Williams with 9:50 left to push the lead to 52-20.
The Bears added a late touchdown against the Eagles junior varsity defense for the final margin.
Davis credited the visiting Polar Bears for not going down without a fight.
“That’s a dangerous team that we just played. They looked really, really good on film and they showed a lot of heart, a tough opponent,” Davis said. “The scoreboard’s not going to quite reflect how hard they played.”
With the win, Eaton remained unbeaten in home playoff games.
“Still undefeated at home in the playoffs. So that’s nice to be able to carry that tradition on,” Davis said. “It’s been an absence (from the playoffs) and I told the upperclassmen I was happy that they got to experience it, and the underclassmen now that this is the standard moving forward.”
Eaton (3-4) will next play at No. 6 seed St. Paris Graham on Saturday, Oct. 17. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.
“We had few missed keys, but, you know, it’s tournament time, we’re happy we’re moving on,” Davis said. “That’s the most important thing.”