Edwardsburg begins title defense with 28-0 win over Trojans

Published 12:05 am Saturday, September 9, 2023

EDWARDSBURG — Edwardsburg controlled the clock at Leo Hoffman Field and rolled to a 28-0 Wolverine Conference football win over visiting Plainwell Friday night.

Dan Purlee, the Eddies’ first-year head coach, was pleased to see his ball club get into the win column following back-to-back losses to Grand Rapids West Catholic and Chelsea to open this season. It marked the first time since 2009 that Edwardsburg, the defending league champions from 2022, had started the season with back-to-back losses.

“We are thrilled with the win tonight. We opened up with a couple of really good teams and Plainwell is a tough team too. Our kids have been working their tails off so for them to taste a victory was good for them,” Purlee said.

Edwardsburg, now 1-0 in the Wolverine and 1-2 overall, had possession of the football for a majority of the first quarter. The Eddies have won 43 consecutive league games.

The Eddies’ junior quarterback Ezekial Pegura slithered one-yard into the endzone with 2:58 left in the first quarter to cap off a 16-play, 76-yard drive. Junior Carter Houseworth booted the first of his four PATs on the night for a 7-0 advantage. The 6-foot-4, 180-pound Pegura also had a couple critical first down runs in that scoring drive.

Plainwell, now 1-2, began its opening series at its own 17 and drove downfield to Edwardsburg’s 30 before turning the ball over on downs with nine minutes left in the second quarter. It turned out to be the Trojans’ best drive of the night.

The Eddies would find the end zone again with 1:46 left in the half on Carson Cebra’s 20-yard dash down the right sideline. Houseworth’s second PAT sailed through the uprights for a 14-0 Eddies’ halftime lead.

Pegura floated a key seven-yard completion on third down and 10 at the Eddies’ 40 to help keep that scoring drive alive.

Pegura gained 62 yards on 12 carries with two TDs and completed 1-of-2 passes for 27 yards for Edwardsburg, which outgained Plainwell in total yardage 377-92, including a 350-84 edge on the ground. The Eddies kept the sticks moving with 19 first downs to just four for the Trojans.

Pegura’s six-yard QB keeper with 1:44 left in the third quarter and Houseworth’s PAT boosted the Eddies’ lead to 21-0.

Cebra, who was the top individual rusher for Edwardsburg with nine carries for 81 yards and two TDs, sprinted 20 yards again for the Eddies’ final score with 6:38 left in the fourth quarter.

Depth in the backfield continues to be a crucial factor for Edwardsburg when it has the football.

“Offensively we are utilizing a lot of backs by rotating a lot of guys in. That’s one of our deeper units and we feel like we have lot of capable kids there. We have to continue to execute up front at a high level because we aren’t that big and won’t push people around that easily,” Purlee said.

Purlee likes what he’s seeing from his offensive line, including juniors Elek Widman and Oscar Morris, along with senior Zac Zache.

Widman (6-2, 225) has impressed Purlee so far at center. Morris began the season as a running back but an injury to one of the Eddies’ starting linemen prompted Purlee to move the 6-foot-1, 220-pound junior to the right guard position. Senior Zac Zache has also looked solid for the Eddies at left tight end.

“After we lost one of our guards we moved Oscar from the backfield so we could develop some more depth on our line. He’s done a nice job there,” Purlee said. “Zac is playing some tight end for us. Other than our tight ends, most of our offensive line is either sophomores and juniors. Lots of guys are in different positions than they’ve played before so we’re still learning and getting better each week.”

Ryan McDaniel was Plainwell’s top ball carrier with 10 carries for 63 yards.

Plainwell senior signal caller Landon Devaney completed 1-of-3 passes for eight yards.

“Offensively, we are doing a great job of chewing up clock, moving the football and keeping our opponent off the field. We still have a lot to clean up and moving forward we need to execute much better,” Purlee said.

Morris paced Edwardsburg defensively with seven tackles from his linebacker spot, while Alex Rudolph and Braden Lundgren added four apiece for the Eddies.

Rudolph, an inside linebacker, was making his first varsity start for Edwardsburg.

“I believe one of the biggest improvements we made tonight was defensively. We kind’ve got off to a slow start but then we were able to settle in. Our defensive line has been probably our most solid unit. I thought we just did a much better job of coming up and making plays,” Purlee said.

Purlee also singled out his senior defensive tackle Jaylin Bowden-McClaire.

“Jaylin is a returning starter from last year and our leader up on the defensive line,” Purlee said.

Walker Karafa, a 5-10, 190-pound junior defensive end has also played well.

“Walker brings a ton of energy to our defensive line,” Purlee added.

Edwardsburg visits Three Rivers Friday at 7 p.m.