EATON — A perfect regular season vanished among three turnovers and a few inches for Eaton’s football team.
Already guaranteed an outright division title, the Eagles were looking to secure their first undefeated regular season since 2010 when they hosted Monroe on Friday, Oct. 22.
The Eagles, which had made big plays all season, failed to do so against the Hornets as a last-second field goal resulted in a 16-14 loss.
“We don’t deserve to win that ballgame. We were the bigger opponent against ourselves tonight,” Eaton coach Brad Davis said. “In a championship caliber ballgame, one opponent’s enough. We can’t beat ourselves.”
Despite the loss, Eaton (9-1) earned the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Division IV, Region 12 playoffs and will host Oakwood on Friday, Oct. 29, at 7 p.m.
Eaton gambled on a fourth-and-one play late in the fourth quarter and came up short, and after, just missed blocking the final field goal attempt by inches.
The Eagle opened the game with long drive but fumbled the ball away at the Monroe 17-yard line.
The Hornets responded with a nearly seven minute drive and scored on a 29-yard touchdown run by Elijah Jackson for a 7-0 lead after a successful point after try.
After the team traded punts, Eaton took advantage of a long return to the Mornoe 30-yard line.
Facing a fourth-and-three, Chris Atkins tossed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Theo Winings with 3:35 left in the first half. Drew Michael added the point after to tie the game a 7-7.
On its first possession of the third quarter, Eaton was called for a false start and delay of game to put the offense in a hole. On third down, Atkins was sacked forcing the Eagles to punt.
On its next possession, Eaton committed its second turnover over of the game which gave the Hornets positive field position.
Eaton’s defense held and forced the Hornets to punt on a fourth-and-23. The Eagles committed turnover number three when they fumbled the punt giving the ball back to Monroe at the Eaton 16-yard line with 2:10 left in the third quarter.
Monroe capitalized on the first play with a 16-yard touchdown run by Ryan Miles for a 13-7 lead. Josh Martin blocked the point after try for the Eagle to keep the score 13-7.
Eaton responded on its next possession. Facing a third-and-nine at the Monroe 13-yard-line, Atkins scrambled for 10-yard gain and a first down. On the next play, Aiden Williams (12 carries, 77 yards) scored to tie the game at 13-13. Michael converted the extra-point to give the Eagles their first lead of the game, 14-13, with 9:43 to play in the game.
The Eagles defense held Monroe again and forced a punt, and Eaton took over at their 45-yard line with 5:35 left in the game.
The Eagles moved the ball nine yards in three plays and faced a fourth-and-one at the Monroe 46-yard line with 3:48 left. Each team called a timeout before the Eagles decided to go for the first down in an attempt put the game away.
Monroe’s defense met the challenge and stopped the Eagles just shy of the first down with 3:38 left in the game.
“One yard for 10-0,” Davis said. “We’ve trusted our offensive line all season. We’re not going to hindsight that. But you know, we didn’t make a play, they did. They deserve to win a ballgame.”
With 1:51 left, the Hornets faced a fourth-and-six at midfield with the game in the balance. The Hornets gained 18-yards on the play to the Eaton 32-yard line.
The Hornets again faced a fourth down with 45 seconds left and converted at the Eaton 21-yard line, eventually setting up the game-winning field goal.
“I told them there’s a Week 11. You’re still the West Division champion and there is a Week 11. This has about 10 more minutes of heartache and then we’re moving on to Week 11,” Davis said.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowenjr