EATON — Eaton’s football team lost its season-opening game against Greenville, 20-14, at home on Saturday, Aug. 27.
Greenville started out on fire in the first quarter, with a 20-point lead until the game was postponed due to lightning and resumed on Saturday morning.
The Green Wave scored their first touchdown on the first possession of the game from Davein Hendrix, who dove in for a 7-yard run. The drive was helped out when, on fourth down, the Eagles were called on a pass interference.
On Eaton’s second possession, they fumbled the ball on the first play and it was recovered by the Greenville defense. On the first play for Greenville, running back Logan Eldridge pushed past the defense and raced 41 yards for a touchdown.
With 7:08 remaining, Greenville was up 13-0 after a missed point after try. Greenville’s final score came after blocking an Eagle punt inside the Eaton 33-yard line.
Two consecutive penalties on the Green Wave’s offense did little to stop the drive that was finished off by a 54-yard touchdown pass to give Greenville its 20-0 lead.
Then mother nature interfered. The game was stopped with 1:30 remaining in the first quarter due to thunder and lightning in the area. The game resumed Saturday morning.
“It was probably the worst possible start to a game we could have,” said Coach Brad Davis. “We felt good about our preparation heading into the game. However, early turnovers and a blocked punt put us in a hole. Credit goes to Greenville for taking advantage of our mistakes early on. During the delay on Friday night, we really focused on trusting our teammates and being accountable. We focus so much on each player doing their job and trusting that their teammates will do theirs. I think we flinched a little bit early on and lost some of that trust. We weren’t playing as a unit.”
The break did the Eagles good, as they battled back to close the deficit, while holding Greenville to zero points for the rest of the contest. Eagle quarterback Lew Bowser threw two touchdowns in the game, one in the second quarter to senior Ghye Wilson and the other in the fourth quarter to freshman Zac Schmidt to help close the gap for the Eagles. But the Green Wave fought hard to preserve their lead and got the win.
Eaton’s offense was led by Bowser at quarterback, going 19-for-29 passing for 249 yards and one interception. The offense was complemented by Bowser’s running game, 13 rushes for 49 yards. Sophomore running back Caleb Puckett added 40 yards on 11 carries. Wilson was Bowser’s most prolific target, catching 10 passes for 101 yards. Schmidt made two catches for 53 yards. Alex Almeyda-Roe, Braydon Shanefelt, and Jordan Lewis each had two catches, while Aaron Tolliver had one catch for 38 yards.
Eaton’s defense was led by Donnie Nicodemus and Tyler Schmidt, who each had a sack. Wilson picked off a Green Wave pass. Senior linebacker Kevin Melling was the leading tackler.
“Melling was involved quite a bit defensively for us, which we need him to be if we’re going to have any success defensively,” Davis said. “Offensively, our numbers are good minus the turnovers. In terms of special teams, the errant punt snap and getting one blocked are unacceptable. We put in way too much time and effort on that unit to have that happen.”
“Coming into Saturday, we wanted to start fast,” Davis said. “We emphasized getting a stop defensively and getting our offense on the scoreboard, which eventually happened. I think this gave our guys some energy. But, again, a couple of turnovers and some costly mistakes and penalties put us in some tough situations. I think we finished minus-three in the takeaway/turnover battle which is tough to win football games when we do that. Especially, when two of those turnovers occurred in the red zone.
“I was proud overall with our effort, resilience, and toughness,” he added. “We just need to eliminate foolish penalties and hold on to the ball.”
Eaton’s next game is a non-conference road trip on Friday, Sept. 2, to St. Henry. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.
Reach Oliver Sanders at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @osanders_RH