Greentown — A rain-soaked, slippery and swampy Cogdell Field suited Eastern speedster Papee Byers just fine Friday night.
Byers raced for 271 yards and a touchdown, averaging 10 yards per tote on 27 carries, and the Comets rang the victory bell at the south end of their home field for the first time this season, outlasting Taylor 28-19 in Mid-Indiana Conference play.
“There was never a place where I felt like we had the game in hand,” said Eastern coach Josh Edwards, whose Comets held a one-point edge, 20-19, late in the fourth quarter when quarterback Austin Bates ran from 17 yards out and connected with Hayden Vint on the ensuing conversion to make it a nine-point game with 3:49 to play.
Taylor (0-8, 0-6 MIC) moved to the Comets’ 39 on its next possession before K.J. Myers intercepted Titan keeper Dayne Tomlinson’s pass attempt and Eastern (1-7, 1-5) ran out the clock.
“I don’t think there was ever a point where this got away from us,” Titan coach Eric Davis said. “They started to wear us down with the run in the second half. I’d say this was our best game of the season. We’ve played a couple good quarters here and there, and [Friday] we competed for four quarters.”
Eastern opened a back-and-forth first quarter with a score on its first play from scrimmage. The Comets recovered Taylor’s onside opening kick at their own 46. Bates took the first snap and dashed 54 yards untouched to make it 6-0.
“We’ve gotten ourselves in holes early this year, and we knew a good start was huge for us,” Edwards said. “It was crucial for the kids to come out and compete early on, and that was the kind of start we needed.”
The Titans punted on a three-and-out on their first possession but got the ball back quick as Logan Williams intercepted a Bates pass attempt four plays into the Comets’ next drive, giving Taylor the ball near midfield.