TUPPERS PLAINS, Ohio — Just too many missed opportunities.
The Eastern football team came up empty twice in the redzone on Friday night, and the Eagles fell to Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division guest Miller by a 20-14 count, at East Shade River Stadium.
Misfortune hit the Eagles (0-2, 0-1 TVC Hocking) early, as on the second play from scrimmage, Miller (1-1, 1-1) junior Alec Eveland intercepted a Jett Facemyer pass and returned it 15 yards to the EHS 35.
From there, Miller needed eight plays and 4:12 to cover the distance and find paydirt. It was MHS junior fullback Seattle Compston that — with a second-effort — pushed past the Eagle defenders from one-yard out. Miller’s point after kick failed, but the Purple and White led 6-0 with 7:03 left in the first quarter.
The ensuing EHS possession began on the Eagle 45, and it took the Green, White and Gold just three plays to make it into the redzone at the MHS 15. A false start moved EHS back to the 20, but back-to-back runs followed by an encroachment by the MHS defense, gave Eastern a first-and-goal from the four.
After a run that just made it back to the line of scrimmage, EHS was called for a chop-block on second down, moving the Eagles back to the 19. On second-and-goal from the 19, Eveland intercepted another pass by Jett Facemyer, returning this one 20 yards to the MHS 25.
Thanks to a 50-yard run by junior Zach Waldrop, Miller quickly made it into EHS territory and into the redzone at the 19-yard line. A pair of backwards plays moved Miller back to the 30 by the end of the first quarter.
On the first play of the second quarter, Miller quarterback Cole Geil was intercepted by EHS sophomore Sharp Facemyer, giving EHS the ball on its own five-yard line.
EHS was backed up six yards over three plays and was forced to put out of its own endzone. Miller had great field position for its next drive — starting at the EHS 30 — but the Falcons fell one-yard short on fourth-and-four, giving the ball back to Eastern at the EHS 21.
Thanks in large part to a 45-yard pass play from Jett Facemyer to Corbett Catlett, Eastern marched into the Falcon territory. Perhaps the biggest play of the drive came four plays after the long pass, as Jett Facemyer found Jeremiah Martindale for 11 yards and a first down on fourth-and-six from the 21.
EHS junior Josh Brewer was stopped one-yard short of a touchdown on first-and-goal run from the MHS 10, but Jett Facemyer scored on a quarterback sneak on the next play, tying the game at six. The Eagles took the lead as Jett Facemyer found Catlett for the two-point conversion, with 4:15 left in the first half.
The ensuing Miller drive went 24 yards before the Eagle defense forced another turnover on downs, this time at the EHS 44. Four plays into the drive, EHS was on the Miller 26-yard line with a fresh set of downs. A late-hit penalty moved the Eagles to the 13, but seven seconds were all that remained on the first-half clock.
In those seven seconds, EHS managed two incomplete passes — one via a drop — sandwiched around a false start. However, Eastern still went into the half ahead 8-6.
Miller didn’t score on its first drive of the second half, but the Falcons did manage to pin Eastern deep in its own territory, punting to the EHS seven.
The Eagles went three-and-out, punting back to Miller, which set up shop on the EHS 48. The Falcons also went three-and-out, but again pinned Eastern deep, punting to the Eagle 12. A pair of backwards plays, followed by an incomplete pass forced the Green, White and Gold to punt from their own endzone again.
After the punt, Miller’s offense began at the EHS 35 and this time, the Falcons took advantage of the field position. On the third play of the drive, Waldrop caught a 38-yard touchdown pass from Geil, giving Miller the lead back with 2:27 left in the third. Eveland caught the two-point conversion pass from Geil and MHS held a 14-8 lead.
After starting around midfield, Eastern’s offense made it to the MHS 34 with a fresh set of downs by the end of the of the third. However, on the first play of the fourth quarter, the Eagles fumbled the ball back to Miller, which set up its offense at the MHS 28.
On Miller’s first play of the ensuing drive, a five-yard run turned into 20 as an EHS personal foul put the Falcons near midfield. On first-and-10 from the MHS 48, Waldrop broke loose of the defense for a long run, but he was stopped one yard shy of the goal line. The Miller junior found the endzone on the next play, however, giving the Falcons a 20-8 lead with 10:39 left in regulation.
Eastern, which began its next drive on its own 42, had an answer, going 58 yards in 10 plays and 3:43. On fourth-and-goal from the MHS 1, Brewer found paydirt for the Eagles, but a failed extra point kept the margin at 20-14 in favor of the Falcons, with just 6:52 left in the game.
Eastern never got the ball back, as the Falcons ate up the rest of the clock covering 48 yards on 13 consecutive running plays.
Both teams had 15 first downs in the game, but Miller held a 278-to-250 edge in total offense, including 213-to-127 on the ground. EHS was penalized nine times for a total of 60 yards, while Miller was penalized had three times for a total of 33 yards. Eastern committed three turnovers in the loss, two more than MHS.
Jett Facemyer — who was 9-of-20 passing for 123 yards with two interceptions — led the EHS rushing attack with 81 yards and one TD on 18 carries. Nate Durst ran three times for a total of 32 yards, while Brewer had a net of three yards on five carries. With one carry each, Blaise Facemyer, Martindale and Owen Arix had eight, four and minus-1 yards respectively.
Catlett and Martindale each hauled in three passes for EHS, gaining 68 and 34 yards respectively. Blaise Facemyer had two receptions for 13 yards, while Jon Wolfe caught one pass for eight yards.
Eastern’s defense was led by Sharp Facemyer with one interception and Durst with a pair of sacks. Blaise Facemyer, Colten Rayburn, Wyatt Bissell and Mac Browning each had one sack for the EHS defense.
Waldrop led Miller with 173 yards on 26 carries and 38 yards on one reception. Compston added 40 yards on 12 carries and 10 yards on one reception, while Carson Starlin had 17 yards on four carries and 11 yards on two catches. Geil was 5-of-12 passing for 65 yards, with one interception.
Eveland’s two interceptions led Miller’s defense, while Jake McCune had two sacks and Starlin added one sack.
Dating back to last season, Eastern has dropped seven consecutive games. The Eagles will try to avoid an eighth straight loss on Friday, when 2-0 Green visits East Shade River Stadium. The Bobcats defeated Hannan 60-0 on Friday, in Ashton.
Miller host Millersport in non-league action next Friday.
J.P. Davis contributed to this report.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.