(T-G Photo by Chris Siers) [Order this photo]
"We killed ourselves with turnovers. They picked up two fumbles and ran them back in but they scored once on our defense. We have to play better than that in these kinds of games," said Cascade coach Kenny Parker.
While the Eagles were able to put 21 points on the board off turnovers, perhaps the biggest silver lining in the loss was the Champion defense only gave up one touchdown the entire night.
But early on, the Eagles were on the prowl.
Eagleville scored 14 points off takeaways in the first quarter to put the Champions in an early bind. Eagleville added to it with seven more off another turnover in the second quarter to go into the half up 21-0.
"Those three turnovers early in the game just sort of gutted the momentum. We knew offensively it was going to be tough," Parker said
Those early points off turnovers seemingly broke any sort of momentum the Champions had orchestrated and only added fuel to the fire for the Eagles.
After both squads were forced to punt in their opening possessions, Cascade found itself on the march near midfield when the Champs were struck with the first turnover of the night when the ball popped loose on a run up the middle.
Eagleville's Dakota Durand scooped up the Champion fumble and scampered to the end zone for the early score.
Needing to rebuild some composure, Cascade attempted to move the ball but couldn't get much moving on its next drive. After a pair of runs by the Champs freshman quarterback Chandler Sulcer dropped back in the pocket and fired a pass intended for senior wide out Matthew Combs, but was picked off after the ball was tipped.
On the next play from the line of scrimmage, Eagleville running back Chris Hale found a seam after picking up a few blocks and took it to the house for the 32-yard score.
(T-G Photo by Chris Siers) [Order this photo]
Penalties hampered the next Champion drive in the second quarter, which resulted in a punt. Much like Cascade, Eagleville got the ball back on its own 39, but couldn't do much with the drive as the Eagles were forced to punt it away.
With 1:37 left in the second quarter, Creed Rose seemingly put the Champs in a position to cut the Eagle lead to one score.
But on a Champion run near the 41 yard line, the ball popped loose again. And again Durard was there to snatch up the loose ball and return it for the scoop and score.
Having kicked off for the game's opening drive, Eagleville got the ball back first in the second half, and added one more touchdown for good measure.
Hale again showed his ability to make a cut and find a route as he ran in a score from 34 yards out, putting Eagleville up 28-0 with 9:15 left to play in the third.
Nearing the end of the quarter, Cascade literally rode the back of sophomore running back Creed Rose as he drove the Champs down to the 2-yard line before punching it into the end zone for the score.
Rose carried the ball eight times on the drive for 83 yards to help the Champs avoid the shutout.
Cascade looked to add to the score and make a run at the Eagles in the fourth quarter. However, an impressive drive was cut short when Sulcer was picked off on the 40.
Eagleville looked to deliver the knockout blow on the ensuing drive--which they would have--had it not been for sophomore corner back Allen Craig.
Eagle quarterback Ryan Jordan attempted to deliver a final shot to the end zone, but Craig perfectly read the pass and got a jump on the play, and came up with the interception, giving the Champs new life.
Even with Craig's interception injecting life into the dejected sideline, the Champs couldn't do anything with the drive and were forced to punt, allowing Eagleville to burn the remaining time on the clock.
"Allen's a sophomore and he's coming on. He's coming along and making some plays," Parker said.
Despite the final number on the scoreboard appearing lopsided, Cascade still played well, according to Parker.
Defensively, the Champs only gave up one score through four quarters against the Eagles.
"Our guys battled. Defensively, I thought we played hard. We executed well but we just gave up a pass or two and I think they had one good run," Parker said.
But the Eagles started seasoned veterans at nearly every position while the Champs lined up a team full of younger players.
"They're seasoned up front and we're playing a lot of young guys. The youth really showed tonight--that's where our turnovers came from," Parker said.
"We were just a couple of plays away from really making it an exciting game."
Cascade managed just 192 yards against the Eagles, but piled up 177 on the ground. Rose handled the bulk of the ground yardage, despite a lingering leg injury, and racked up 170 yards on 28 carries, including a 2-yard touchdown run.
"Creed's getting better. He said tonight 'I'm 93 percent.' He's made a lot of improvements," Parker said.
With the regular season in the books, the Champs begin their quest for postseason gold. And in this season, it's win or go home.
"Now it's the playoffs and we know you're guaranteed one week and if you want the second week, you cant perform like we did tonight. Whoever we play is going to be a good football team and we have to come out and match their intensity and play the kind of football that we did early," Parker said.
"It's tough, but we'll overcome."
Cascade begins the TSSAA football playoffs next Friday at Watertown (7-3, 5-3 7-A).
Eagleville 14 7 7 0 -- 28
Cascade 0 0 6 0 -- 6
E -- Dakota Durand 42 fumble recovery (Rudy Guerra kick) 4:30.
E -- Chris Hale 32 run (Guerra kick) 2:32.
E -- Durand 38 fumble recovery (Guerra kick) 1:21.
E -- Hale 34 run (Guerra kick) 9:15.
C -- Creed Rose 2 run (Kick failed) 1:00.