The Braves scored twice in their game against Eaton in their football opener, which was two more touchdowns than they had in the match-up in last year’s opener, but the end result was the same—a loss.
Talawanda fell 51-14 at Eaton Friday night, Aug. 26, and there were a few bright spots, but usually those bright spots were overshadowed by a mistake or missed opportunity.
The highlight of the evening for the Braves came just before halftime.
With Eaton up 21-0 and the clock grinding down, Talawanda’s Dalton Prater took in an Eaton punt and ran it back 84 yards for a score. He actually ran more yards than that as he had to cut through traffic going to his left, moved down the Talawanda sideline, cut back toward the center of the field and then back toward the sideline again to get the score.
“I thought that would be a good motivator but then we fumbled on our first play (of the second half),” seventh-year head coach Mike Wright said. “You can’t turn the ball over and let them have a short field.”
Statistics tell the story. Eaton had 14 first downs in the game to four for Talawanda. Eaton had 26 rushing plays for 98 yards while the Braves rushed 36 times for a net of six yards. Passing, Eaton was 21 of 40 with no interceptions while Talawanda threw the ball 17 times with three completions and one interception. In total offense, Eaton ran 66 plays for 352 yards while Talawanda ran 53 plays for 26 yards.
The story was Eaton’s senior quarterback Cole French, who ran the offense, kicked extra points and even covered the sideline on punt coverage.
In addition to the punt return with 36 seconds left in the first half, Talawanda got a 20-yard TD run from substitute quarterback Jon Abshire with five seconds left in the game. That run capped a five-play, 39-yard drive which started after Eaton had scored its final TD on a Talawanda fumble of a punt.
Eaton scored in every quarter, with 14 points in the first quarter, seven points in the second, nine in the third which included a safety, and then 21 points in the fourth quarter.
“We can’t execute part of the time,” Wright said. “We can’t have special teams breakdowns. It’s not for lack of effort. Eaton just did a better job of executing. We knew we can’t make mistakes. Our mistakes led to a lot of their points.”
Wright said he saw some good things from his defense but they were too often followed by mistakes. They forced Eaton into third-and-long situations several times but then gave up the yards the Eagles needed to sustain the drive. Still, overall, the defense had a better night than other parts of the team.
“Of the three aspects—offense, defense and special teams—the defense was the best, but we need to work to get more consistency. We need to work on all three aspects,” Wright said. “Offensively and special teams, we have a lot of work to do.”
The Braves will open the home part of their season schedule next Friday, Sept. 2, when they host Fenwick at Bowers Field for Bantam Night, paying tribute to the district’s Bantam Football program.