GREENTOWN — The visiting Bluffton Tigers offered up their own version of “shock and awe” here Friday night as they used a fast start to overwhelm Eastern 62-34 in a Class 2A Sectional 36 battle.
It took the Tigers less than five minutes of the first quarter to build a 23-0 lead that left the Comets scrambling the rest of the night. While Eastern was able to pull within two touchdowns twice in the second half, a 33-point third quarter by Bluffton quashed the threat, and two fourth-period TDs by the Comets could only make the final score more respectable.
On Bluffton’s third play from scrimmage, fullback Javon Morgan burst off right guard for 50 yards to make it 6-0 just 52 seconds into the game. Then Eastern quarterback Austin Bates was sacked and fumbled on third down with Tiger tackle Jay Brickley recovering at the Eastern 19. D’Wayne Eskridge cashed in from the one for the first of his five TDs and added the two-point conversion for a 14-0 lead.
On the Comets’ next possession, Bates was sacked for a safety. After the free kick, Eskridge went 48 yards to the one and then scored again for a 23-0 lead.
Eastern (2-8) settled down after that, but the damage was done.
“We had a great week of practice,” said Eastern coach Josh Edwards. “[The start of the game] was really surprising for me. I don’t know that it was a problem with preparation so much as not matching the intensity of Bluffton’s older kids.”
“I give credit to [Bluffton] coach [Casey] Kolkman. Great, great game plan. They executed it, played their tails off. So credit goes to them.”
Bluffton (5-5) made it 29-0 early in the second quarter on another Eskridge run from three yards out, but Eastern answered. Papee Byers broke off a 39-yard run to Bluffton’s seven, and after a loss of six, Bates found Braden Evans open over the middle to narrow it to 29-6 at the half.