Taking on one of the perennial favorites in the Southern Ohio Conference Division I football race on the road Friday night, the Eastern Eagles took the lead in the second quarter and flew off to a 50-22 conquest.
The victory sees Eastern improve to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the SOC I. The Eagles have never started 3-0 in their young program history. The closest they came was winning their first two games of 2016 before dropping the third.
It took coming from behind early and holding off the tenacious attempts by the Symmes Valley Vikings for the Eagles to escape with their victory.
Eastern fell behind in the opening quarter and trailed the hosting Vikings 6-0 at the end of the opening quarter. But they bounced back and doubled the score, tying the game before taking the lead after Eastern senior Dillion Mattox recovered a Viking fumble to get the ball back to the offense. Then quarterback Wyatt Hines connected with Logan Clemmons down the sideline with a long ball for the touchdown, pushing the lead to 12-6.
Back to work, the Eastern defense recorded a stop with 1:49 left in the half. Then the offense rallied for another touchdown strike. Hines connected with Colten Denny over the middle for a 14-yard strike with five seconds left in the half. Mattox then carried the ball for the conversion, 20-6, to go up by 14 points.
The Vikings weren’t going away quietly, returning the kickoff for a touchdown as time expired in the half. They made good on the two-point conversion, cutting Eastern’s lead to 20-14.
Symmes Valley started the second half with the ball, but the Vikings didn’t keep it long. Kyle Beasley delivered a crucial tackle before Logan Clemmons followed with a leaping interception. The Eagles turned turnover into points.
Using holes created by the offensive line, Hines capped the scoring drive with a 6-yard run, pushing the lead up 26-14 with 7:49 left in the third.
The Vikings continued to fight, countering with a clock-consuming drive before finishing it with 2:11 left in the third quarter. With the conversion, Symmes Valley had pulled within four. That was as close as the Vikings could get to Eastern.
From there, Eastern soared, following with 24 unanswered points to go up 50-22.
The first touchdown of that 24-0 run by the Eagles came from a shifty Mattox, who returned the Symmes Valley kickoff for a touchdown to give Eastern a 10-point cushion. Chase Carter’s point-after kick extended the lead to 11, 33-22.
Mattox picked right up where he left off on Eastern’s next drive. Taking the handoff from Hines, Mattox was hit at the line before breaking away to sprint 50 yards for the touchdown. Chase Carter connected on the point-after to make it 40-22 with 1:56 left in the third.
Carter had the next play of the game on defense, collecting a fumbled Viking snap to get the ball back on the wings of the Eagle offense. Clemmons followed by breaking a 31-yard run to the end zone on the next play to score. Carter had the point-after, making the lead 47-22.
Finishing the scoring, Carter had the opportunity to showcase his kicking skills, connecting on a 20-yard field goal to push the advantage to 50-22.
Eastern’s junior varsity squad finished out the game, ending with a kneel-down to wrap up the victory.
The Eagles will be back home Friday night to take on the Notre Dame Titans.
The scoring information in this story is courtesy of the Eastern Pike Athletics account on Twitter.