OXFORD — Brad Davis will be the first to admit his team’s performance at Talawanda on Friday, Sept. 3 wasn’t at thing of beauty.
But he’ll certainly take the final outcome.
Davis’ Eaton football team battled back from a late third quarter deficit by scoring twice in the fourth quarter to knock off the upset-minded Brave, 27-17.
“We won, 1-0 is the goal,” Davis said. “We accomplished that goal. It wasn’t pretty. Talawanda played their tails off. We didn’t love the way we played at times but we played well enough to get to get the victory.”
Eaton improved to 3-0 with the win, marking the best start for the program since the 2013 season.
“I know it’s coaches talk and all that, but we really are just trying to go 1-0 each week,” Davis said.
The game got off to rocky start for the Eagles as they fumbled away the opening kickoff and committed untimely penalties throughout to keep Talawanda drives alive.
The Brave took advantage of the opening miscue, driving 38 yards in just over four minutes to take a 7-0 lead on a 24-yard touchdown run by quarterback Deondre Bothast-Revalee.
Revalee (23 carries for 145 yards) and running back D.J. Morris-Williams (12 carries for 70 yards) proved to be difficult for the Eagles to tackle all night.
“We were just a little sloppy at times, some pre-snap penalties, some untimely penalties, and missed tackles, some more missed tackles and some more missed tackles,” Davis said. “Just starting like that and giving them the short field right there, we just can’t do that. We ended up recovering from that and responding.”
Eaton responded by driving 66 yards in nine plays, taking nearly five minutes off the clock, to tie the game on a 7-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brock Ebright (9-for-11, 94 yards, two TDs) to Leslie Orr.
The Brave continued to stick with the running game on its next possession, driving 74 yards and capping it off with a 42-yard TD run by Revalee to regain the lead 14-7 with 9:56 left in the second quarter.
After the teams traded punts, the Eagles drove 55 yards, in seven plays to tie the game on an Ebright 1-yard sneak up the middle with 1:41 left in the half.
On the first possession of the third quarter, the Brave took nearly 10 minutes off the clock with a 16-play drive which was kept alive twice by Eaton penalties.
This time, the Eagles kept the Brave out of the end zone and held them to a 26-yard field goal with 2:03 to play.
Davis said holding Talawanda to field goal was key at that stage of the game.
“We don’t really care about time of possession, but that’s kind of one of our defensive goals is hold them to kicks when they happen to get inside the 20, and we were able to do that at a critical time in the game,” Davis said.
From there, it took the Eagles just over three minutes to grab their first lead of the game. Eaton drove 58 yards in eight plays to take a 21-17 lead on a 23-yard TD run by Aiden Williams (22 carries for 132 yards) with 10:23 to play. Williams carried the ball six times on the drive.
Eaton’s defense rose to the challenge on Talawanda’s next possession, forcing a three-and-out.
The Eagles then drove 51 yards in seven plays to ice the game on a 13-yard TD pass from Ebright to Theo Winings with 4:45 left in the game, giving Eaton a 27-17 lead, the eventual final score.
”It’s what our offensive line has done and Aiden has done, our running game has done. Our quick passing game which is really just an extension of the run game, the bubbles were effective tonight,” Davis said of his team’s ability to step up in the second half. “That’s just what they’ve done in the second half.”
Eaton’s defense secured the win by holding Talawanda on its next possession.
Davis said the Brave’s offense kept his team off-balance much of the night. The Brave rushed for 232 yards on 45 attempts.
“It’s so hard to replicate in practice and we have a bunch of these now coming up, Bellbrook next week with a Wing-T style, we’ve got a couple other option type teams on the on the schedule, it’s just so hard to replicate in practice,” Davis said. “We never execute the quickness of the blocks quite that well. It takes us a little bit of time to kind of get caught up to speed with the other team on Fridays.”
Eaton will begin SWBL play when they host Bellbrook (2-1) in a crossover game on Friday, Sept. 10.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowenjr