TUPPERS PLAINS, Ohio — Another efficient effort from the Eagles.
Eastern churned out 322 rushing yards, scored on its first six possessions and capped the first half with a pick-6 on Friday night en route to a 54-18 Homecoming victory over visiting Wahama in a Week 6 Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division football contest at East Shade River Stadium.
The Eagles (4-2, 2-2 TVC Hocking) never trailed, but found themselves locked in a dog-fight early on while clinging to a 7-6 edge less than three minutes into regulation.
The hosts, however, responded by scoring on their next five possessions while turning a 1-point lead into a commanding 40-6 advantage with 7:54 left until halftime.
The White Falcons (2-4, 2-3) followed by throwing their first interception of the night as Will Oldaker came down with the takeaway.
The Red and White retaliated with an interception of their own as Hunter Board produced the guests’ only takeaway while retaining possession at the EHS 20.
Facing a third-and-11, Wahama quarterback Brayden Davenport had his attempt picked off by Bryce Newland at the 29. The sophomore secured the takeaway and rumbled 29 yards to paydirt while extending the lead out to 47-6 with 1:38 left until halftime.
Steven Fitzgerald capped a 5-play, 62-yard opening drive with a 9-yard run, allowing Eastern to take a permanent lead of 7-0 at the 10:01 mark of the first.
WHS answered with a 60-yard pass from Davenport to Board at the 9:06 mark, covering 70 yards in two plays while closing the deficit down to 7-6.
Eastern responded with a 12-yard run by Fitzgerald at the 7:40 mark of the first, then received 2- and 1-yard scoring runs from Blake Newland en route to a 27-6 lead with 3:01 left in the opening canto.
Fitzgerald hauled in an 8-yard pass from Conner Ridenour at the 11:13 mark for a 34-6 edge, then Blake Newland tacked on a 9-yard TD run with 7:54 left in the half — making it a 40-6 contest.
Brayden Smith provided a 3-yard run with 8:12 left in the third canto while giving the Green and White their largest lead of the game at 54-6.
Trevor Hunt hauled in a 20-yard TD pass from Davenport with 50 seconds left in regulation, whittling the deficit down to 54-12.
The White Falcons recovered an onside kick at the Eagle 48, then Hunt reeled in a 48-yard TD pass from Davenport on the next play as the guests pulled to within 38 points with five seconds remaining.
Eastern finished the game with a 19-8 advantage in first downs and was also plus-1 in turnover differential. The hosts churned out 322 rushing yards on 31 attempts and also held Wahama to negative-2 yards rushing on 22 carries.
Both teams were penalized three times for 20 yards apiece. Mason Dishong converted 5-of-7 PAT kicks for the Eastern, while Oldaker made his only point-after try.
Blake Newland led EHS with 161 rushing yards on 11 carries, all of which came in the first half. Fitzgerald also had 91 yards on eight totes.
Ridenour completed 5-of-9 passes for 47 yards, throwing one TD and one interception. Fitzgerald led the EHS wideouts with three catches for 35 yards.
Nick Brewer paced Wahama with 13 rushing yards on eight carries, followed by Gavin Stiltner with five yards on two tries.
Davenport completed 9-of-18 passes for 194 yards, including three touchdowns and two interceptions. Hunt led the WHS receivers with four catches for 71 yards.
It was the first time in seven years that the home team came away victorious in this head-to-head matchup.
Both teams return to TVC Hocking action next Friday as Eastern hosts Federal Hocking at East Shade River Stadium, while Wahama welcomes Waterford to Bachtel Stadium. Both games will kickoff at 7:30 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.