By Bryan Davis
Friday night’s Hebron Christian Eagles (2-7; 0-2) and Calhoun Academy Cougars 1-9; 0-2) game was a wild one. It was an offensive shootout that finally ended with a 38-30 homecoming win for the Eagles.
For the first time in 2010, the Eagles dropped down to eight-man football, taking on a Cougar team that has played with those numbers all year.
“It was a typical eight-man game, where it’s stop me, and I’ll try to stop you,” said Hebron head coach Greg Watkins. “That’s the kind of a game it was.”
The two teams exchanged scores the entire game, and with 9:18 left in the fourth quarter, the Eagles and the Cougars exchanged blows on the field that resulted in three ejections.
Long before that delay, the opening kick off of the game set the tone for the evening, as Calhoun flicked an onside kick down the sideline, recovered that ball past 10 yards and ran it all the way in for a touchdown. Hunter Harmon tacked on two points with a run to make it 8-0, with just five seconds taken off the clock, which starts at 10 minutes in eight man.
The Eagles soon began to mount an attack of their own , but a seven-play drive came to nothing as Marques Robinson was only able to get seven yards on a fourth an 16.
The Cougars then had an eight-play drive that ended in a turnover on downs. That’s when Hebron went to work.
Senior running back Jae Shaw and sophomore Will Corbin Rogers led the charge, nickel and diming their way down the field from their own 27 yard line.
The first quarter ended in the middle of that drive, so the Eagles had to wait until there was 7:49 left in the half to score their first touchdown. It was a 24 yard run to the end zone by Shaw that capped the drive and would eventually tie the game, after Shaw completed the two-point conversion.
It only took 17 seconds for the Cougars to respond, as Dylan Haimes connected with Danny Joe Norman for a 65 yard touchdown pass that would make it a 16-8 Cougar lead.
The Eagles started their next drive from their own 41. The good field position paid off as they drove eight plays that culminated in a four-yard touchdown run by Taylor Coggins, with 2:34 left in the half. The two-point try was missed, so the Cougars retained a 16-14 lead.
The biggest play of the half came three plays into the Cougars’ next drive. Haimes went to the air, and Rogers read the throw perfectly, picking the pass off at his own 20, taking it five yards to the 25.
Shaw took the first handoff from quarterback Chad Smith 58 yards to the 17 yard line of the Cougars.
Rogers followed with an eight yard gain, and Coggins added four. Eventually, Shaw would complete the drive with a five-yard touchdown run to make it 20-16, with 13 seconds remaining in the half.
The second half started much like the first. Instead of Calhoun kicking it and recovering it, they just received Cody Tatum’s kick and took it all the way back to pay dirt for a 22-20 lead after the two-point conversion.
Once again, the Eagles were playing catch up, but they were still energized from the final drive of the first half.
On their next possession, the Eagles led by Shaw and Rogers made four consecutive first down runs. On a second and 10, Rogers took the ball to the two yard line on a 13 yard run to set up first and goal.
Shaw then leaped into the end zone for a two-yard touchdown, making it 26-22.
With 6:49 left on the clock, the Cougars went to work, but their next drive came to nothing, as a dropped pass by Kyle Carter on fourth down ended the push.
Much like the end of the first, the Eagles would get the ball back and would take the drive into the early part of the fourth quarter. It was with 9:26 left in the game that Coggins crossed the goal line again to make it a 32-22 lead for the Eagles.
With almost 10 minutes left, no lead was safe. The Eagles were trying hard to preserve a 10-point lead, something they were unable to do last week against Immanuel. The Cougars were attempting to battle their way back into the game.
On the kickoff back to the Cougars, things got out of hand when the fray started at the end of the play.
“Emotions were high,” Watkins said. “They had taken the lead, and then we took the lead. I don’t know what all started it.”
Two Cougars were ejected, and one Eagles was thrown out of the game.
Before play resumed, however, the two teams met in a huddle in the middle of the field, and cooler heads prevailed.
After that, the Eagle defense was ignited. Besides one good run on this drive, the Eagles dominated. They ended the threat with a forced fumble and recovery, the second big turnover of the day for Hebron.
“Kevin Simmons, our senior linebacker, came up and had missed him on the play before,” Watkins said. “He came up and made big hit, knocking the ball loose.”
Tatum then picked the ball up for the Eagle take away.
The Eagles needed to pad the lead, and pad the lead they did. Rogers and Coggins took the Eagles down field, and Coggins went into the end zone for a 28 yard touchdown run to make it 38-22.
This was still only a two touchdown lead, and there was 3:40 left on the clock. That was plenty of time for the Cougar offense to score twice.
They got halfway there with 1:52 left in the game, as Haimes to the ball in from three yards to make it 38-30 after a two-point conversion.
The Eagles would not score again, but they were able to tick down the clock to zero, as Smith led the team in the victory formation, taking a knee for the Eagles’ second win of the season.
“Our guys played all four quarters real hard,” Watkins said. “We made some plays when we had to make plays. They really never did stop us on offense. I’m real proud of the effort.”
Shaw finished the game with 200 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
“He hit the holes running hard,” Watkins said. “Jae is a lot faster than he looks. He got a step on a couple of them and cut loose.”
Coggins had two touchdowns to go with his 106 yards on the ground.
“Taylor Coggins came in, and he was kind of fresh because we haven’t been running him,” Watkins said. “He broke two nice ones.”
Hebron had 431 offensive yards in the game. Defensively, the Eagles gave up a lot of points, but they did come up with two big take aways that were the difference in the game.
“The defense, except for that last touchdown they scored, played well all night,” Watkins said.
Next week, the Eagles will host Winona, a district rival, to end the season. The Eagles were knocked out of the playoff hunt last week by the Rams, but they will be trying for their first conference win against the district champions.
“That will be our senior night,” Watkins said. “Our guys are going to come out here and play hard.”