After falling in an early 13-0 hole, Mount Gilead repeatedly fought back against visiting Colonel Crawford, but would be unable to get over the hump in what wound up a 46-26 loss to the Eagles.
The Indians found themselves behind the eight ball early, as the Eagles took the game-opening drive down the field for a touchdown. Led by senior running back Blake Treisch, the Eagles were able to drive down the field and score on an eight-yard run by Treisch. After Spencer Mutchler added the extra point, it was 7-0 in favor of the road team.
That score wouldn’t last long, though, as the Indians fumbled the ensuing kickoff. Treisch immediately busted a 51-yard run and then added a one-yard dive that made the score 13-0 at the 8:07 mark of the first quarter.
Mount Gilead would immediately bounce back, going 58 yards in six plays, finishing with a 35-yard run by Jonah Barnett. The Indians would then recover a fumble to get the back on their own 43 and Barnett would strike again, this time on a 57-yard run on the first play from scrimmage. Neither extra point attempt was successful, but with 4:15 to go in the opening period, CC’s lead was cut to 13-12.
“I didn’t think we played extremely well defensively, but we played hard,” said Eagle coach Ryan Teglovic. “Barnett is a great player who ran for over 1600 yards as a junior. We expected him to be a tough task for us and he was.”
On the other sideline, Indian coach Jason Ross also felt his team gave a great effort, but just made too many mistakes over the course of the game.
“I’m very proud of our effort and attitude,” he said. “We’ve got to get better at playing football and technically get better and we’ll start doing that tomorrow.”
The points kept coming as the first quarter ended and the second began. After the Indians cut their lead to one, Colonel Crawford got the ball on their own 26 and were able to hold it for 12 plays and nearly six minutes, scoring early in the second quarter on a short run by Michael Knisely and taking a 20-12 lead.
Mount Gilead looked like they would bounce back, as they drove the ball to the Eagle 39, but a snap went over the head of quarterback Tyler Bland and wound up a 24-yard loss that the team could not recover from. Colonel Crawford then took the punt and drove 71 yards in 12 plays, finishing off another long drive with Treisch’s third touchdown of the day to take a 27-12 lead into the half.
The Indians started the second half with the ball, but were forced to punt after their drive stalled on the CC 40. However, Cole Grace immediately intercepted a pass to give the ball back to MG on the Eagle 32. Barnett dominated the ensuing possession, running four times for 20 yards, including a six-yard score. Scott Page’s extra point brought the Indians within a 27-19 margin midway through the third.
The two teams continued to battle back and forth throughout the third. Colonel Crawford capped a nine-play drive with an 11-yard scoring run by Treisch, but Barnett immediately responded for the Indians with a 65-yard sprint that kept his team within one possession at 34-26.
Mount Gilead then had a chance to take the lead, as Seth Young picked off a pass to put the ball on the Eagle 34. The Indians took advantage of a pass interference call on a pass from Bland to Alijah Keen in the end zone to move inside the 10, but would be unable to capitalize and wound up turning the ball over on downs with 6:23 remaining.
The Eagles would bounce back, getting a key fourth-down conversion just inside MG territory and then scoring on a 43-yard run by Trevor Shawber to go back up by two possessions. With a lot of returning experience on his line and in his backfield, Teglovic didn’t hesitate to give them control of their destinies.
“We had fourth-and-one only up by eight,” he said. “The guys have been doing it all day, so I was going to put it in their hands.”
After Mount Gilead turned the ball over on downs with 1:28 remaining, Treisch was able to bust one more long run, scoring from 46 yards out to end the scoring.
Ross noted that his team simply committed too many mistakes, whether they be turnovers or penalties, to beat a team the caliber of the Eagles.
“They are a very good team,” he said. “No disrespect to them, but I felt we stopped ourselves on offense with fumbles and penalties. They played great, but we have to clean up our mental mistakes.”
While he also didn’t think his team played a perfect game, Teglovic was happy to escape Mount Gilead with a 1-0 record.
“That’s what we talked about,” he said. “We have a lot of things to work on, but it’s good to get that win. We had quite a few make their first varsity start, so to go on the road and get a win, you have to be proud of that.”