“We really didn’t know what our attitude was going to be, coming off the hard loss to Fairfield,” stated Coach Lee Etzler. “We told them that we still had a shot at the title. And we prepared them for what we thought would be a physical game and it was an extremely physical football game.”
It was a hard hitting game from the start. The Eagles had the ball first and drove 41 yards on 12 plays, to the Laker 30 yard, before turning the ball over on downs.
The Lakers got on the board quickly on their sixth play from scrimmage, Dakotah Baldridge hit Cameron Moore for a 48 yard touchdown pass and with the extra point the Lakers lead 7-0.
Churubusco answered quickly, scoring after four straight runs by Kyle Mathewson first for five yards , then 20 and then for 14 more. On his fourth carry Mathewson broke through the Laker defense and dashed 18 yards for the score. The missed two-point pass attempt left the Eagles down 7-6.
After trading punts on both teams first posessions in the second quarter the Lakers put together an eight play drive that ended in a fumble recovered by Jordan Hamilton.
Churubusco took more time off the clock with a nine play drive. That resulted in a fourth down and 13 attempt, a fake punt by Mathewson. He was caught by a Lakeland defender after an eight yard gain, turning the ball over to the Lakers with 47 seconds remaining in the half. The Laker passing attack faltered and they had to punt to the Eagles with eight seconds left. The Eagles ran one to Mathewson for nine yards and on the last play of the half they threw an incomplete pass. The score at the half was Lakeland 7 Churubusco 6.
Lakeland received the kickoff in the second half and was stopped on a fourth down attempt by a stingy Eagle defense giving the Eagles the ball at the ‘Busco 45 yard line. After a first down on a pass from Kyle Monk to Bryce Shively complete for ten yards the Eagles again turned the ball over on downs, as a pass from Monk to Hamilton came up short of the first down.
The Zach Dock defense again held its ground forcing the Lakers to punt after three plays. Churubusco went to work, a 14 play drive consuming almost seven minutes. The Lakeland defense stopped the Eagles at the Laker 28 yard line on an incomplete pass intended for Hamilton.
With just over ten minutes remaining time was running out for the Eagles. But after an incomplete pass Lakeland‘s quarterback fumbled the snap and Hamilton came up with his second fumble recovery of the game.
With the Eagles deep in Lakeland territory, the offensive line did a gut check and created some hard fought yards for the Busco running backs. Churubusco converted on two fourth down attempts before Hamilton bulled his way across the goal line to give the Eagles a 12-7 lead.
Lakeland wasn’t done yet as they completed a pass for 16 yards. A hard rush by the Eagles almost resulted in a sack, but was completed to a Laker back that took the ball 22 yards down to the Busco 28 yard line with 3:03 remaining in the game. A pentality and a completed pass left Lakeland with a fourth and 13 as 2:03 remained was left on the clock. An incomplete pass to Moore gave the Eagles the ball.
Busco couldn’t move the ball and had to punt back to the Lakers with 46 seconds remaining. A punt off the side of Mathewson’s foot gave the Lakers the ball at the Lakeland 45 following a 14 yard punt. Lakeland got a first down to the Eagles’ 45 yard line. Another incomplete pass and just six seconds remained. Lakeland completed a pass for seven yards as time ran out. The Eagle defense held again!
“It’s a good accomplishment for the kids, it’s a good accomplishment for the program and it’s a lot to be proud of,” added Etzler. “We’re playing schools that are bigger than us and we feel our kids work harder than the other kids. You want to see the rewards for that hard work. We haven’t had that success in conference in past years, so this is something for our guys to be proud of.”
The Eagles will host Adams Central this Friday night in the first round of sectional play at 7:00 p.m. The postseason games start a half-hour earlier than the regular season games did so get there early.