TUPPERS PLAINS, Ohio — In an obvious contrast in styles on Friday night, it was good for the Eagles that they had a “Jett” on their side.
That’s because Eastern senior quarterback Jett Facemyer, in throwing four touchdown passes and rushing for two more, spearheaded the Eagles’ 40-15 Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division football victory over visiting South Gallia — inside a steamy East Shade River Stadium at Eastern High School.
The win was Eastern’s second consecutive over the Rebels — and third in a row after an 0-2 start to the season.
The contest also marked Homecoming activities at Eastern High School, as the Eagles are now 2-1 in the TVC-Hocking.
It was also the first win by Eastern over a Gallia County school since 2012.
The loss leaves the Rebels at an opposite 2-3 — and 1-2 in the division.
The Eagles, after falling behind 7-6 midway through the second quarter, turned on the “Jett” so to speak.
As all six Eastern touchdowns involved the six-foot, 180-pound Facemyer, the Eagles erupted for 27 unanswered points in a span of six-and-a-half minutes — staking a 33-7 advantage with nine minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Finally, after 14 minutes and 16 seconds with the Eagles ahead 33-15, Facemyer finished off South Gallia by scoring from five yards out after a Rebel turnover — and with only five minutes and 10 seconds to play.
In all, Facemyer had a hand — or actually an arm and feet — in all but one of Eastern’s 40 points.
Following the final touchdown, Mollie Maxon made the extra-point kick to make it 40-15.
For those into counting, Facemyer has been responsible for all but four of the Eagles’ touchdowns this year.
In addition to the six six-pointers on Friday night, he threw for a critical two-point conversion — and his only extra-point kick made it 33-7.
The Eagles amassed 526 total yards, as Facemyer threw for 283 — and four scores on 13-of-18 attempts.
He also carried 23 times for 155, including an even 100 rushing yards in the second half on 14 totes.
“Jett (Facemyer) played great again tonight and we need him to play great games. But to win games, you make great plays as a team. Our offensive line kept Jett (Facemyer) clean for the most part,” said Eastern coach Pat Newland. “There were several third-and-longs or fourth-down situations where he just came up big.”
None were bigger than the Eagles’ opening touchdown — or Eastern’s TD at the end of the opening half.
After the Rebels went three-and-out on the game’s first possession, Facemyer completed a 20-yard pass to Blaise Facemyer — converting 3rd-and-12 to the Eagles’ 43-yard line.
Two plays later, on 3rd-and-13 at the 40, Facemyer found Blaise again at the South Gallia 30, as Blaise made the reception over the outstretched arms of Rebel defensive back Chase Kemper.
Blaise Facemyer then turned and dashed toward the end zone, resulting in a 60-yard pitch-and-catch only four minutes and 10 seconds in.
“Those quick strikes to score and get up on them were key all game long,” said Newland.
Then, after the Eagles returned a punt 20 yards to the Rebel 28, Jett Facemyer found Blaise Facemyer for 16 yards — before another completion to Jon Wolfe.
Finally, facing 4th-and-4 from the 6, and on the final play of the half, Jett rolled right and pulled up at the 8 — finding a dragging Wolfe near the back of the end zone for the score.
For Facemyer in the first half, he completed an impressive 11-of-14 for 186 yards and a hat trick of touchdowns.
In answering the Rebels’ initial touchdown — a 38-yard Johnny Sheets scamper up the middle and extra-point kick by A.J. Woodall — he drove the Eagles 59 yards in seven plays, including calling his own number for 17 yards to move into SG territory.
Facemyer put the Eagles ahead 12-7 — on a 20-yard touchdown toss to Wolfe with 3:37 remaining in the second stanza.
That actually kick-started the Meigs Countians’ charge of 27 unanswered.
“With the offense they (Rebels) run, they grind it out and are a very physical team. To get the one score and two-point conversion on that (14-7 score), and then to get the touchdown on the last play of the half, that was huge,” said Newland.
In the opening two minutes and 51 seconds of the third frame, Facemyer found Nate Durst for a touchdown — on an 80-yard screen pass on the second play from scrimmage.
Following a Rebel fumble at its own 32, Eastern scored four plays later to make it 33-7 — following a 21-yard Facemyer pickup to the 12 and his 12-yard sprint to the end zone on the very next play.
“With a good football player in Jett Facemyer scrambling around like that, he had a lot to do with it. But they made the plays and we didn’t,” said South Gallia coach Jason Peck. “In those situations, we’ve been coming up short this season. We haven’t grown up enough to stop those momentum swings yet. I’m not making any excuses whatsoever, but we’re still a young team and we’ll grow up and these situations will make us better. Unfortunately, tonight it put us in a hole we couldn’t recover from. Our speed level is down, but discipline and staying in running in lanes, you should be able to handle speed. We’re not there yet with our self-discipline, taking proper steps and proper angles. Their kids executed and our kids didn’t.”
Although, Sheets sure did for the Rebels.
After Eastern’s only punt of the game for 27 yards to the South Gallia 44, the senior standout scored from 38 yards out to tie the game at 6-6 — with 6:10 to play in the second quarter.
He also answered the Eagles’ second third-quarter TD, this time taking a toss right up the middle — and rumbling 62 yards to the house.
His two-point conversion run trimmed the deficit to 33-15 with seven-and-a-half minutes remaining in the third, as Sheets racked up 216 yards on 23 carries.
And, all were within the context of the Rebels’ double-wing, double-tight, foot-to-foot line-split formation.
The Rebels rushed for 258 yards on 44 attempts.
“Johnny Sheets is a workhorse. He never stops playing and is a good leader. I can’t say enough about the young man. He deserves all the credit and the publicity that he gets. He shows up to play every week no matter the opponent,” said Peck. “And he is a good leader to the young men on the field. We’re a lot of freshmen and sophomores out there playing.”
In fact, he rushed the rock on half of the Rebels’ plays from scrimmage, as the Red and Gold did not complete either of its two passes.
The Eagles spent the second half running the ball, including a 14-play drive down to the South Gallia 6.
“In the second half, we knew we wanted to run the ball and take time off the clock. It takes them (Rebels) a long time to drive the ball and score,” said Newland.
With six minutes remaining, the Rebels’ bid for a comeback ended when a high snap sailed over Sheets’ head — and Eastern recovered at the 5-yard-line.
“We’ve struggled all year hanging on to the football. We’ve moved the ball all year on everyone, but we’ve put it on the ground, or bobbled a catch or bobbled a pitch, or had a bad snap somewhere. That puts us in bad situations,” said Peck. “We have to hold on to the football. So far this season, we have not.”
Both teams lost two fumbles, as Eastern ran 59 plays from scrimmage — while holding a 22-12 advantage in first downs.
In addition to Facemyer’s 155 on 23, Josh Brewer added 58 yards on 14 carries, part of Eastern’s 243 as a team.
While the Rebels return home next week to host Belpre in the TVC-Hocking, Eastern is at undefeated-in-the-division Waterford.
For Friday night, however, Newland and his Eagles indeed were in celebration mode.
“I can’t remember the last time we had a Homecoming win or even three wins in a row. The kids are very positive and it’s a lot better being on the right end of three games in a row,” he said.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106