TUPPERS PLAINS, Ohio — Unfortunately for the Eagles, and at the worst time, the visiting Trimble Tomcats dealt them a goose egg.
With Eastern’s defense on the field entirely too much, and with its offense unable to generate much of anything, the Eagles endured a frustrating Friday night — being blanked by Trimble 34-0 in a Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division football tilt at East Shade River Stadium.
Although, it’s just the latest loss to Trimble for the Eagles, as Trimble — in improving to 6-2 and 6-1 in the TVC-Hocking — turned its win streak to now 17 games against Eastern.
Moreover, 16 of those are consecutive in the regular season.
The loss also dealt Eastern’s Division VII, Region 27 playoff hopes a major hit — as the Eagles really needed a victory to remain in serious postseason contention.
They entered Friday’s affair ranked 13th in the region, but fell to 15th following the shutout to the second-ranked in Region 27 Tomcats.
Trimble — in a span of eight minutes and 52 seconds — scored all 20 of its second-quarter points, before tacking on seven points apiece in the late stages of the third and fourth frames.
The run-oriented Tomcats of 2016 churned out eight yards shy of 400 rushing, amassing 57 carries of their 65 total plays.
In fact, senior running back Kameron Curry, who had a hat trick of rushing touchdowns in the second quarter, carried 27 times for a massive 204 yards.
Eastern, on the other hand, struggled mightily on offense — which led to its defense being on the field way too much.
In the opening half, the Eagles punted three times following three three-and-out possessions — and turned the ball over twice while once turning it over on downs.
In the second 24 minutes, Eastern endured another three-and-out, followed by drives of a dozen and five plays that ended in interceptions.
The Eagles only amounted 106 yards on 46 plays from scrimmage, and quarterback Jett Facemyer managed only 72 total yards, including only three rushing on 10 attempts.
The speedy defensive front of the Tomcats flushed Facemyer from the pocket all night, making him scramble to avoid an onslaught of pressure.
“If you would have told me we were going to shut them out, I wouldn’t think so,” said Trimble coach Phil Faires. “From film, (Jett) Facemyer and a couple of their receivers look really good. But we had to make him (Facemyer) get out of the pocket. Our defensive front did a great job, especially Matthew Rollins putting a lot of pressure on him. We rushed him out of the pocket and I don’t think he is really used to that. Any time you get a shutout especially against an offensive-oriented team like Eastern, it makes you feel good.”
With that, and combined with Eastern’s own mistakes, the Eagles fell to an even 4-4 — and 3-3 in the TVC-Hocking.
“It was very frustrating, because we couldn’t get any offensive continuity going,” said Eastern coach Pat Newland. “They (Tomcats) had a fast defensive line, they were to hard to block and they blitzed a lot of linebackers. We had some success on some screens and things, but then any time it seemed like we would get something going, we would have a penalty or something would happen. We had some dropped balls, missed blocks, all kinds of stuff that we have to get better at.”
The Tomcats, conversely, got better on Friday night following a scoreless opening quarter.
Only 54 seconds into the second period, Curry carried up the middle and off of right tackle, but slipped through the crease in the Eagle front — and eventually found his way into the end zone.
The mad dash was good for 80 yards following the Eagle turnover on downs, as the first of four Max Hooper extra-point kicks made it 7-0.
“There was always just one breakdown, whether it was a missed tackle or we got blocked. The Curry kid doesn’t need much room to run, and then when he gets free he is gone. That’s kind of what happened on that play,” said Newland.
As it turned out, it was a momentum changer.
“We broke the big one when it was 0-0 at the start of the second quarter. That gave us some breathing room to try some other stuff. We opened it up a little bit and the kids have confidence in it,” said Faires.
Following Eastern’s second three-and-out, the Tomcats then marched nine plays and 67 yards in five minutes and 17 seconds — and made it 13-0 at the four-minute mark on Curry’s eight-yard run.
All nine plays were rushes, and only the second-to-last snap resulted in negative yardage.
The Eagles then punted again, but did so this time from inside their own 20-yard-line, with Trimble taking over at the Eastern 41.
Two plays and 38 seconds later, with 2:14 to play in the second quarter, Curry raced up the middle once again — and found paydirt for the third time to make it 20-0.
In the third quarter, another Eastern three-and-out resulted in another Tomcat TD — this one capping a four-play, 23-yard, minute and 25-second scoring drive, in which quarterback Gary Brooks called his own number from four yards out at the four-and-a-half minute mark.
Finally, in the fourth quarter, Trimble marched a massive 13 plays and 68 yards in exactly seven-and-a-half minutes, picking up five first downs as Nathan Downs darted in from a yard out.
“I was very happy with the effort we gave and we played hard on defense, but we played defense way too much tonight,” said Newland. “
Along with Curry’s eye-popping statistics, Dominic Pickett posted 59 yards on 11 carries, as Brooks added 57 yards (six carries) and Downs another 43 (seven carries).
Brooks completed 3-of-8 passes for 22 yards, as Trimble tallied 21 first downs compared to only seven for Eastern.
Blaise Facemyer made four receptions for 44 yards, as Josh Brewer was the leading rusher with 38 yards on a dozen attempts.
The Eagles, now needing to win out AND a bevy of help in order to make the playoffs, travel to Belpre next week in the TVC-Hocking.
With the loss to the Tomcats, Eastern is now 0-4 this year against teams with a winning record.
However, Newland said the difficult schedule has made his Eagles better.
“We’ve played a tough schedule, but I feel we’ve gotten better throughout and gotten more physical,” said Newland. “We’ve got Belpre next week, and they are another fast and physical team to prepare for.”
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106