Sciotoville was full of energy for East High School’s homecoming on Friday night as the Eastern Eagles came to Tartan Turf to challenge the East Tartans.
Eastern came into the game looking for a signature win in their third season as a football program. The Eagles put up a good fight, but couldn’t go the distance in a 60-20 win for the Tartans.
The Eagles hoped to control the ball and keep the ball out of the hands of the East offense. Opting to receive the kickoff, Eastern pieced together a 12 play, 49 yard touchdown drive that ended on a 4 yard Dalton Tomlison run.
A two point conversion attempt failed, and with 6:30 to play in the first quarter the Eagles were ahead 6-0.
East’s offense had an answer of their own. The Tartans orchestrated a nine play, 79 yard scoring drive that was aided by Eastern penalties.
First, an offsides penalty on a 4th down and 3 gave East a first down. Then, the Tartans moved inside the red zone when the Eagles were called for a facemask penalty.
The drive was capped off by a five yard Kyle Flannery touchdown run on 4th down and 5. After a missed extra point, the game was tied at 6-6 with 1:18 left in the first quarter.
As the second quarter began, Eastern was still hanging on. The Eagles manufactured another long scoring drive, this time going 10 plays for 63 yards.
Eastern got into the endzone on a screen pass to Logan Clemmons, who cut it back inside and met a wall of defenders. However, the offensive linemen for the Eagles pushed Clemmons forward for a touchdown.
Drake Myers added the two point conversion for the Eagles, giving Eastern a 14-6 lead with 10:14 in the second quarter.
The Tartans responded once more on a 12 yard touchdown run from quarterback Brady Douthat that concluded a seven play, 55 yard drive. East tied the game on a two point conversion run from Flannery with 8:20 to play in the second.
On the next drive, a monumental play changed the face of the game. After a three and out and back to punt, a bad snap caused the Eastern punter to drop the ball and ultimately get tackled at his own 17 yard line.
“They just kept that grinding attitude, and we made some big hits,” East head coach James Gifford said. “The punt that they bobbled, we were able to kind of just take off from there.”
The play resulted in a turnover on downs, and a turnover of momentum to the hands of the Tartans.
From that point, East scored 32 unanswered points, and outscored the Eagles 46-6 in the remainder of the game.
“I think we started very slow,” junior linebacker Chandler Carver said. “In the second quarter, we picked it up greatly.”
Ethan Gifford got the scoring started for the Tartans after the turnover on a 5 yard touchdown run. Ethan Carver added two points to the score when he reversed field on his two point try and found the endzone.
At 6:07 in the second quarter, East had a 22-14 edge.
Eastern’s offense began to struggle after the punt mishap. A Myers pass was intercepted by Flannery and returned for a touchdown, but a penalty negated the run.
No worries though, as Flannery promptly took the first play from scrimmage after the change of possession in for a 38 yard score. Douthat kept it himself for two, and just over a minute later the Tartans now had a 30-14 lead.
That interception began a trend of turnovers for the Eagles, who turned the ball over on seven of their next eight drives.
On this drive, Eastern turned the ball over on a failed 4th down and 4. East answered with a 2 yard run from Ethan Carver, and Douthat added two once again to stretch the margin to 38-14 in favor of the Tartans with 1:33 before halftime.
“I think the first half was good for us,” Gifford said. “It’s the first time really other than the Danville game that we had to play faced with adversity.”
Out of the break, East continued their offensive success. On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Ethan Gifford broke free for a 46 yard touchdown dash. Ethan Carver added the two point conversion, and the Tartans were now on top 46-14 with 11:49 to go in the third quarter.
Eastern had some explosiveness of their own. On a 2nd down and 10 on their second play from scrimmage in the second half, Drake Myers found Parker Clemmons for a 64 yard touchdown reception. Myers was unable to get the two point conversion, and the Eagles were now behind 46-20 with 9:42 remaining in the third.
Following the Eastern score, the Tartans were able to add two more touchdowns to close the game out. First, Ethan Carver scored from 7 yards out. Carver then ran a two point conversion attempt in to give the Tartans a 54-20 advantage.
Then, Ethan Gifford intercepted another Myers throw, and J.D. Hatcher caught a 37 yard touchdown pass from Douthat. East was unable to convert the two point conversion.
Although the game appeared to be wrapped up, the intensity did not subside on the field. The affair continued to be very physical.
As a result, Flannery was ejected with 9:36 remaining in the fourth quarter on a personal foul penalty. Because of the ejection, Flannery will be unable to play in East’s next game against Oak Hill.
Both teams combined for 160 penalty yards during the game, with the Tartans racking up 100 of those.
“We’ve got to clean that stuff up,” Gifford said. “It seems like every time we get a punt return, or kickoff return, or interception return it seems like as soon as the guy takes off we’re getting a flag.”
Late in the fourth quarter, Douthat made the play of the game. On a deep ball from Myers, Douthat played the ball in the air and jumped up to make a one-handed interception deep in East territory.
“Honestly I was trying to bat it down and it just stuck to my hand,” Douthat said. “I was just like “woah, that just happened.” I was probably more stunned than anybody else.”
It was no surprise to coach Gifford that Douthat was able to get the job done on the defensive side of the ball, too.
“Brady is just a player,” Gifford said. “I’ll tell you, what I like about Brady is he’s a player that just loves the game of football. It doesn’t matter, you could ask for a defensive tackle and he’d say “I’ll go, I’ll go!” – he just loves to be on the field.”
Douthat accounted for two total touchdowns in the game, and added an interception to his stat sheet on the season as well.
After the game, Douthat gave praise to his offensive line for leading the way. The Tartans rushed for 319 yards and seven rushing touchdowns. Douthat rushed for 101 yards.
“I just got to give credit to my line up front,” Douthat said. “Blaine Scott and Trenton Bond, my tackles, they did a heck of a job.”
East was able to power on in a hard fought challenge to get the win and improve to 6-1 on the season and 3-0 in the SOC. Most importantly, they faced adversity from their opponent to prepare them for their big game next week.
“It was good for us,” Gifford said. “I was proud, I feel like our guys fought through and we accomplished the W so we’ll take it.”
East will host Oak Hill (5-2, 3-0) on Friday. Eastern (3-4, 2-2) will travel to Green (1-6, 0-3).
Reach Benjamin Spicer at (502)264-7318 or on Twitter @BSpicerPDT
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