EATON — Eaton erased a 21-point first quarter deficit to rally for a 31-21 Homecoming win over visiting Waynesville on Friday, Sept. 16.
“I just told them there at the end that’s what grit looks like and that’s what fight looks like,” Eaton coach Brad Davis said. “So, I think those two words probably sum up how we came back in the second half.”
The Eagles couldn’t have got off to a worse start.
On the opening kickoff they lost a key player to an injury then the Spartans rattled off 21 unanswered points for a 21-0 lead.
Waynesville scored on a 36-yard fumble recovery, a 10-yard touchdown pass and a 38-yard TD pass.
Although down 21, Davis felt his team still had plenty of time to get back into the game.
“It’s one of those (situations) where we’re not really looking at the scoreboard because it’s about as bad as we could have played,” Davis said. “So when you look up and it’s like, golly, the first quarter is just now over, and we have so much time (left), so that was the key at halftime was just play with a little bit more urgency. But every play has to be just that much more important.”
The comeback started late in the first quarter when the Eagles forced a turnover on a punt return.
A minute into the second quarter the Eagles were finally on the scoreboard with a 22-yard TD pass from Brock Ebright to Brayden Deem.
Neither team scored again in the first half.
In the second half, Eaton’s front line on both sides of the ball began to take over the game.
“Heart of team,” Davis said of the offensive and defensive lines. “Starts with those guys. We put a lot of pressure on those guys because we have high expectations for them. They know the play starts with them. Started picking up their pressure better. Brock started staying in there and making some plays. We started catching the ball a little bit better, and then defensively did what we needed to do there in the second.”
Ebright scored on a 1-yard run to make it a 21-14 game in the third quarter.
Ebright’ second touchdown of the game, another 1-yard run, knotted things up a 21-21 in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles defense forced a turnover midway through the final quarter and the offense took advantage.
Ebright scored his third touchdown (9-yard run) of the game, with a key block from J.T. Gels, to put the Eagles in front for the first time, 28-21.
“It was nice to be on the on the good side of that (turnover). It feels like we’ve just been giving the ball away and not creating very many takeaways. To be able to capitalize on a couple of those was big,” Davis said.
After another stop, Eaton added a 35-yard Drew Michael field goal to seal the game with just over a minute left in the game.
“The kids executed. They responded and that’s what we’re looking for,” Davis said. “The second half was what we’ve been searching for. We still haven’t put four quarters together. But we started playing as a team or a unit on offense and defense and that’s what we’ve been searching for. Now we just got to put four full quarters together.”
Eaton’s limited the Spartans to 239 yards, most in the first half.
Ebright completed 21-of-39 passes for 335 yards. Leslie Orr caught seven passes for 123 yard and Deem had nine catches for 99 yards.
Eaton (3-2 overall, 1-1 SWBL) is scheduled to travel to Middletown Madison on Friday, Sept. 23.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowenjr.