The Golden Eagles came into Friday night’s game 3-0, facing District rival Oakleaf Knights. They leave the Rock 3-1 and 0-1 in District play.
This game was deemed the “Game of the Week,” and unfortunately for the Eagles, they shot themselves in the foot. The Eagles were beaten by big plays, turnovers, and their late-game clock management. Two weeks ago, following the victory over the Rickard Raiders, we wrote about improving their secondary coverage. Apparently, the Knights watched that film and realized they could exploit that part of the Eagle’s defense.
It didn’t take long for the Knights to expose the weakness of the Eagle’s defense. On 3rd and 12 from their 23-yard line, the Knights completed a pass for 64-yard. Oakleaf followed the pass play with a 14-yard gain and punched it into the endzone from the 1-yard line.
An uncharacteristic fumble by Eagles running back Sam Singleton on the Eagle’s 12-yard line set the Knights up in a prime position to take a two-score lead. Following a high snap that moved the Knights back to the 27-yard line, on second and 24, Oakleaf scored on a 27-yard touchdown pass.
In the second quarter, the Knights scored on a 71-yard completion. At this point, the Eagles found themselves down 20-7.
Following the fumble by Singleton, he got to work. It seemed as if he took the fumble personally and began to run like the FSU commit Clay County has become accustomed to seeing. Sam finished the night with 122 yards on 21 carries with nearly a 6-yard average. That’s what the Eagles expect out of their workhorse.
SOPH quarterback Cibastian Broughton had a very disappointing performance during the 26-20 loss. Broughton had not thrown an interception this season coming into the game versus the Knights but left the field late in the fourth quarter with 4 under his belt. He seemed confused at times when the pressure would get to him as well as when he would get out of the pocket and try to complete passes. The highlights for Broughton tonight were his 13-yard touchdown pass to TE Dakota Rowe, a 60-yard scamper, and when he called his own number for an 8-yard touchdown run. In the first three games, Broughton has shown positive improvements from last season and is extremely important to keep this offense as an honest two-threat attack. We’ll chalk it up tonight as a bad night and expect him to bounce back in two weeks versus Bartram Trail.
A few stats that are concerning, the secondary gave up pass plays of 64, 27, 71, and 26 yards. This group right now is the Achilles heel of this defense. It’s not plug and play at these positions but there is serious help or corrections that must be made before the Eagles go on the road to Bartram. It will not get any easier and the Bears will go after the weak spot.
The score and flow of the game never felt like the Eagles were out of a possible comeback. Fleming had closed the gap late in the third quarter, 26-14, and Abram Wright seemingly made the play that the defense has made over the first three games that turn the tide for the Eagles. Just as it felt like the Eagles were gaining momentum, an interception is thrown. One thing that stood out late in the fourth quarter, down two scores, the offense was very lackadaisical. It seemed like Broughton had to get plays called in, and there never seemed to be an urgency about the score and, more importantly, the precious seconds that were ticking away. Watching Broughton and his frantic expressions to the sideline, this issue was not on the players. A hurry-up offense or a solid two-minute drill-prepared team may have been able to come back, possibly.
As disappointing as this game was, the Eagles had their opportunities: Singleton ran well, someone on defense came up with the big play, the “Worm” got loose, and they made plays at times. The Eagles were just not as consistent as they have been the first three games and turnovers came in droves tonight.
The Eagles will have a big test in two weeks at Bartram. They will have an extra week of preparation, and hopefully some of the Seniors will step up and challenge each other moving forward. This is a solid team, and they have the potential to make a serious run this season, but they must come to play every week. Because teams, like Oakleaf, damn, for sure come to play.