Eagles fly past Bobcats, 31-16

Published 12:43 am Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Goshen Eagles shook off a sluggish start to pick up a come-from-behind 31-16 homecoming win over R.C. Hatch Friday night.

The Eagles (3-3, 3-1) trailed most of the first three quarters before scoring 15 fourth-quarter points.

R.C. Hatch (2-4, 2-2) led 16-15 early in the fourth quarter, but had to punt from its own end zone, which gave Goshen the ball on the Bobcat 32-yard line.

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The Eagles drove the ball to the Bobcat 25, but faced a fourth-and-15 play with about 9:20 left to play.

Sophomore quarterback Jerome Lawrence lofted a pass into the end zone, where fellow sophomore Brandon Alford was covered by two Bobcat defenders.

Alford jumped into the air, and had to fight one of the Bobcats for possession of the ball all the way to the ground, but was able to come up with the catch to give Goshen a 21-16 lead. Aaron Bryan’s two-point conversion run would put Goshen up 23-16, and the Eagles were able to ride the wave of momentum from there.

Alford said he was concentrated more on catching the ball on the fourth down play than on the Bobcat defense.

“I just concentrated on catching the ball,” Alford said. “It was in my hands, but his hand was on top of the ball, so I had to pull it away from him, or else he would have grabbed it.”

Head coach Bart Snyder said he was not sure that Alford would be able to make the play when he was watching from the sideline.

“Whenever I saw the ball, I didn’t know that he would make the play,” Snyder said. “But, he made a great effort and was able to go up and take the ball away. The kid has got some kind of talent. He just doesn’t know that he has that kind of talent.”

While Alford’s catch gave Goshen the lead, it still had to hold off the Bobcat offense.

Unfortunately for R.C. Hatch, the offense would have to wait a while to take the field.

On the kickoff following Alford’s touchdown catch, Jeremy Howard returned the ball to the Bobcat 35 before he was hit by Goshen’s Gauge Ballard, who stripped the ball free.

Clay Bryan then recovered the ball for the Eagles, setting up Goshen with good field position yet again.

Six plays later, senior Marcus Jackson scored from one yard out to put Goshen up 29-16. Senior Reginald Foster added the two-point conversion to provide the final points of the game.

The Eagles’ defense did not allow an offensive touchdown in the second half, and only gave up 38 yards of offense.

“Our defense did a lot better than they have been,” Snyder said. “We were just hitting tonight. They had a lot of injuries due to just sheer contact. I was just real proud of the effort from a host of our Eagle defenders.”

Things did not look bright for the Eagle defense early on, as R.C. Hatch scored the game’s first points early in the second quarter to take an 8-0 lead.

Goshen struck back, however, scoring 15 points in the final 3:30 of the first half to take a 15-8 lead at the half.

“They took the ball down the field and scored first on us like everyone else has been doing,” Snyder said. “The guys had to battle back, and we were able to go up going into halftime. That speaks a lot about our guys’ character and their ability to fight.”

Snyder said he was excited to see his team pick up a win on homecoming, especially a region win.

“Most importantly, it’s good to see a group of seniors that has some guys who have never played football get to experience a positive homecoming,” Snyder said. “They’re one step closer to their goal of reaching the playoffs, so we’re real excited about that.”

Foster led Goshen with 146 yards rushing and a touchdown on 16 carries. Jackson scored twice and rushed for 58 yards on 18 carries.

Defensively, Foster had eight tackles, two assisted tackles and a pass breakup.

Bryan has three tackles, two assisted tackles, three pass breakups, an interception and a fumble recovery.

While Snyder was pleased with Goshen’s performance, he said there are things the Eagles need to work on.

“We have just got to become more disciplined, and make sure that we carry out our fakes and carry out our blocks,” Snyder said. “We’ve got to run the ball even harder than we have been running it. Also, if we touch the football, we’ve got to catch it, and we will be working on that.”

Goshen returns to action next week on the road against Francis Marion.