Busco improves to 7-0
by Don Hiatt
Outlined against a blue-gray October sky… wait a minute that was already written. Churubusco did ride its own horse to victory, Kyle Mathewson, the outstanding fullback in the ‘Busco wing-T attack. Mathewson had every carry in the final drive covering 91 yards in seven plays resulting in a four-yard touchdown giving Churubusco a 24-21 come from behind win over Culver Academy.
Mathewson finished the day with 294 yards rushing on 32 carries. It was an exciting display of power and speed watching him in a battle with the opponent. Several times throughout the game Mathewson was met at the line of scrimmage by defenders. He would bounce off of them and get hit by the next defender and then spin away from the tacklers and gain more yards.
“They work extremely hard and they don’t get a lot of credit,” replied Mathewson when I asked him about the offensive line. “I want to give them a lot of credit because they are the main reason we are scoring right now and they are doing an outstanding job creating holes for our backfield.”
Culver Academy let the Eagles know right from the start that this would be a physical football game. They pounded the ball down the field in ten plays for a score and after the blocked extra point by Jeremy Forker, Culver led 6-0. The Eagles were driving into enemy territory but lost possession on an intercepted pass. Culver went three and out on their next series as did the Eagles. The hosts were forced to punt the ball back to the Eagles. After a 12-play drive by Culver that ended the opening quarter.
Churubusco went to work in the second period, Jes Percey started the drive with a big gain. Then Kyle Monk connected with Jordan Turner, who caught the ball after it went off of Josh LeFever’s hands for a 30-yard pickup. Mathewson’s number was called the next three plays gaining 16 yards down to the 11-yard line. On the next play Monk hit Mathewson for the touchdown and with LeFever’s run for point after the Eagles were on top 8-6. Culver put together a ten-play 68-yard drive to answer the Eagles’ score. Quarterback Tom O’Neill of Culver ran in for the score from 20 yards out and also scored the two-point conversion giving them a 14-6 lead. Churubusco picked up a couple of first downs but their drive was stalled at midfield. Culver was looking for a quick score through the air in the closing seconds of the first half but Monk intercepted the pass ending their threat.
“Anything different is a distraction and we didn’t handle it very well either,” explained Coach Lee Etzler. “We honestly didn’t practice exceptionally well this week, it was a different type of week. What the reason for that is, I don’t know. We need to get this corrected and remain focused on our goals.”
The quick hitting Eagles exploded out of the box in the third quarter, with a 52-yard run by Mathewson putting them deep into Culver territory inside the 20-yard line. Two plays later Monk threw another interception at the goal line, pinning them at the three. The Culver backfield went to work on the clock as they marched forty yards in 13 plays taking five minutes off the clock. A Justin Turnbow sack, giving Culver a second down and 17, stalled the drive. Churubusco started their drive from the eight-yard line and picked up a first down. But on third and long Monk threw his third pick of the game turning the ball over deep into Eagle territory. Again the defense rose to the occasion, as Monk tackled their runner for a six-yard loss. The next play Turnbow knocked the ball out of the quarterback’s hand and Spencer Conrad came up with the loose ball.
An 18-yard gain by Mathewson on the first play had the Eagles at midfield. The first play of the fourth quarter, on fourth and three, the ball slipped through Conrad’s hands, turning the ball over. Culver went right down the field in six plays for the score kicking the extra point for a 21-8 advantage. The Eagles had their backs against the wall down two scores with time running out. Starting out with five straight runs to get the ball to mid-field they went to the air again where Monk connected with LeFever, on a cross field pass for 16 yards then to Percey for an 11 yard gain. Mathewson finished the drive with a 24-yard scamper into the end zone. A Monk to Turner pass gave the Eagles two more points to pull within five at 21-16, capping an eight play 75 yard drive.
Less than six minutes remaining the Eagles needed to get a big play. After giving up a first down the Eagles held Culver with some great defense as Turnbow again shot through the line causing the quarterback to fumble and then on third and long Alex Zolman’s pass defense forced them to punt the ball back to the Eagles.
The next series may go down in Churubusco history as “The Drive.” “Coming out for that last drive Coach Etzler made it a point to stay focused and do what we do,” explained Mathewson. “I was determined and focused to get into the end zone. I knew what we had to do in order to win and it showed on the field.”
With the Eagles pinned on their eight-yard line, Mathewson followed what looked like the whole Eagle line up the sidelines for a huge 32-yard pickup. The next play Mathewson gained eight more yards. Everybody on the Churubusco offense was doing their job and after a no gainer, Mathewson broke free for 22 yards. Five more, then 12 more and on the following play Mathewson busted through Culver’s defense for the go ahead score. A Monk to Percey pass gave the Eagles a 24-21 lead with 1:35 remaining.
“It helped us gaining the 32 yards on the first play,” stated Coach Etzler. “We used a little bit different formation on the final drive and that got them (Culver) off balance. When you gain the momentum that puts them back on their heels, also we were fortunate to keep making the plays to finish the drive.”
Culver wasn’t through just yet as they went to work on the Eagle defense hitting the middle receiver for 15 yards three plays in a row. A sack by Turner on the next play moved them back to the 27-yard line. Looking for the win O’Neill was intercepted by Monk, his second on the day, to clinch the win for the Eagles.
“Hopefully this game will helps us down the road, we needed to be in this situation,” added Coach Etzler. “I felt that even when most people thought we were going to lose this game. I thought regardless of the outcome we played hard. If you play hard, you’re focused and you lose the game, sometimes you can accept that, but when you’re not focused, don’t play hard and lose, it gets frustrating.”
It was a great comeback win for the Eagles, who travel to Fairfield this Friday night at 7:30 p.m. Churubusco looks to remain undefeated in Conference play and claim the title. Come on out and cheer your Eagles on to victory.