Eddies record back-to-back 28-0 wins

Published 8:45 am Saturday, September 16, 2023

THREE RIVERS — Behind its huge stable of running backs and a solid defense, Edwardsburg’s football team rolled to its second consecutive shutout with a 28-0 Wolverine Conference win at Three Rivers Friday night.

Edwardsburg, now 2-2 overall and 2-0 in the league, outgained Three Rivers 333-209 in total yards, including a 333-70 advantage on the ground. The Eddies’ Wing-T offense piled up 19 first downs and held the Wildcats to just 10.

Eleven different running backs carried the football for Edwardsburg. Carson Cebra led the Eddies’ ground assault with 15 carries worth 115 yards and one TD. Keegan Parsons tacked on four for 72. Grady Ostrander lugged the rock six times for 62 yards and one TD. Will Moore had four touches for 40 yards and Parker Hankins added nine carries for 22.

Senior quarterback Ezekial Pegura lugged the pigskin just seven times for eight yards. But the 6-foot-4, 180-pound Eddies’ junior was able to find his way into the end zone twice.

“We have nine different guys who get quite a few reps carrying the football in practice,” said Edwardsburg Heach Coach Dan Purlee. “A lot of those guys play defense as well so we’re trying to utilize as many backs as we can to keep us fresh.”

Edwardsburg received the opening kickoff and Pegura directed the Eddies downfield to score in 16 plays capped off by Ostrander’s 25-yard TD dash. Carter Houseworth’s PAT was blocked.

Clock control once again was a dominating factor with Edwardsburg consuming all but 3:56 on the clock for a 6-0 lead after one quarter.

On the first scoring drive, Edwardsburg’s offense picked up four first downs and converted two fourth down attempts. The Eddies attempted their only pass of the night during the series which fell incomplete.

Three Rivers was held to just three plays on its only series of the first stanza and was forced to punt the ball away.

Three Rivers’ defense, which gave up 159 points its first three games, stopped a potential Edwardsburg scoring drive early in the second quarter. The Wildcats’ defense managed to stuff Pegura on a fourth down and one rushing attempt at the Three Rivers’ 14 with 8:52 left in the half.

After forcing another Wildcat punt, the Eddies’ offensive unit went to work from its own 27 and scored in five plays with 3:21 left before the intermission.

Edwardsburg picked up two quick first downs while moving the ball across midfield and deep into Three Rivers territory to the Wildcat 25. Cebra received the handoff on the next play and sped into the end zone for the Eddies’ second score of the night. Houseworth lined up to boot a PAT, but instead ran the ball and won a footrace to the pylon for the two-point conversion and a 14-0 lead.

“It’s a good night for your defense anytime you can hold your opponent to zeroes on the scoreboard. We will take these last two shutouts. We had another scoring chance there in the first half where we didn’t score. You have to punch those in when you get down there. For the most part though, I thought we moved the football pretty consistently the whole night,” Purlee said. “We still have a few things to clean up like our offensive execution, but we’re starting to get there. We don’t have a lot of size up front so pad level is important, taking the correct paths, getting on the right sides and just being relentless in staying on people with great intensity. We feel like we have the right guys up there to get better. We’re still young and still learning and getting a little better each week.”

Three Rivers received the second-half kickoff and ran just two plays before Caleb Quake’s pass was intercepted by Eddies’ junior linebacker Carson Eaton and returned 27 yards to the Three Rivers’ 16-yard line.

Pegura scored both TDs for Edwardsburg in the third quarter on a pair of one-yard QB keepers. Houseworth was successful on both of the Eddies’ PATs.

Three Rivers’ defense prevented another late Edwardsburg score when junior Jace Gray sacked the Eddies’ backup QB Jaydon Goorhouse on fourth and two from the Wildcat six.

Three Rivers gained possession at its own 10-yard line and Quake and the Wildcats’ offense marched downfield all the way to the Eddies’ 34. Quake hooked up with fellow senior Luis Warmack on a 34-yard pass play that gave the Wildcats a first down at the Eddies’ 30. But a penalty and incomplete pass kept the Wildcats from scoring.

Edwardsburg’s offense came on the field with a little over a minute left in the contest. Pegura took a couple snaps and the Eddies were able to run out the clock.

Edwardsburg was led defensively by Cebra with six tackles. Mikey Mannor registered four stops, while Parsons and Eaton had three tackles each. Eaton also had the interception.

“Carson had a big interception for us tonight. I thought the whole defense was very disciplined and the kids executed our game plan very well. Our pursuit to the ball has been much better and we’ve handled our assignments well,” Purlee said.

Quake completed 10-of-20 passes for 139 yards with one interception. The senior signal caller also led the Wildcats on the ground with eight carries for 36 yards. Gray added four rushes for 18 yards and Drew McClain had six attempts for 17 yards.

Gray, a two-year starter for the Wildcats at safety, led Three Rivers with 11 tackles. McClain had six stops, while Jaxon Smith and Landon Moreland piled up four apiece.

Despite the loss, first-year Three Rivers head coach Chris Gilliam was proud of the effort his team put forth on the field.

“Edwardsburg’s running backs are patient and they hurt us with some big plays. We have some inexperience, but we’re getting better. Sometimes growing pains can be very painful, but in terms of effort we are doing the right things. We have to keep growing each week,” Gilliam said.