SALINEVILLE, Ohio (WKBN) – The Southern Indians utilized a physical running game and an opportunistic defense to knock the United Eagles from the undefeated ranks. With the 34-21 win over the Eagles, both teams now stand at 4-1 on the season.
The league title will now be decided next week when United hosts Leetonia. An Eagles victory would create a three-way tie at the top. So following the game, the Indians shouted encouragement to the Eagles team, chanting “three-way tie, three-way tie”.
“Our young kids stepped up tonight,” Indians coach Rich Wright said. “It was a great team effort. We just kind of gutted it out. We wanted this win really bad, and we knew what a good team they were.”
Southern jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead in this one with touchdowns from Tim West and Brad Sloan on their first two possession. West hauled in an 8-yard pass at the 7:14 mark of the first quarter and Sloan busted loose for a 61-yard run with just 43-second remaining in the quarter.
“I’m glad he’s a senior, because he’s a heck of a football player,” Eagles coach DJ Ogilvie remarked. “Obviously he made us miss a lot of tackles. What a terrific player he is.”
Sloan would rush for 180 yards and two touchdowns on the night. Hunter Morris would pound out 121 yards to help pace the Indians.
United got on the board in the second quarter with a Keaton Baker 10-yard touchdown run to close the gap to 14-7 with 7:49 remaining in the second quarter. The score came at the conclusion of a 16-play, 72-yard drive.
Southern took a 22-7 lead into the half however as they scored with just 15-second before intermission when quarterback Josh Pratt ran 2-yards around right end.
The Indians put some distance between themselves and the Eagles at the start of the second half when they extended their lead to 28-7. Timmy West picked off an errant Eagles’ pass and returned 33-yards for a touchdown. The pick was his first of two in the second half.
“Actually it was a jump ball between me and their guy and I just took it out of their hands and ran it back,” West explained the play. “In practice we really worked on pass coverage this they are a pass heavy team. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.”
The Eagles immediately returned the favor with a 70-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Baker to close it back to 28-14. The touchdown came at the 10:58 mark of the third quarter.
“It was a game of inches all night,” Wright remarked. “We got that big play to start the third quarter, and then they answered right back with that return.”
But the Indians would regain the momentum two possessions later when Sloan would score once again. This time it was a 30-yard run to make it 34-14 with 5:50 left in the third stanza.
United continued to fight back as they scored on an 81-yard pass from Brutus Ogilvie to Grant Knight with only 50-second remaining in the third quarter. But that was a close as the Eagles could get as the Indians milked the clock in the fourth quarter.
“We were pretty much on our heels the whole game. We were hoping they ran out of steam and we could keep up with them, and that what we did,” Indians running back and linebacker Hunter Morris admitted.
“We didn’t quit. So I’m proud of that,” DJ Ogilvie said. “We just have to lick our wounds here and bounce back for next week. We will see what type of character our kids have.”
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