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Goshen dismantles Providence Christian

Goshen High School's Marcus Jackson (5) runs the ball during the Eagles' game against Zion Chapel. (Photo/Clif Lusk)

A chilly Thursday night was not enough to slow down the Goshen Eagles.

And as it turned out, neither was Providence Christian.

In the regular season finale for both teams, all it took was five plays for the momentum to shift to the Eagles’ side, and the team in purple in gold kept it there for the rest of the game as GHS cruised to a 65-28 victory.

“We knew what we had to do going into the game,” Eagle head coach Bart Snyder said. “And the kids got the job done.

“People know what we are going to do before every ball game and these guys still find a way to make things happen. I’m proud of them all – they all played hard (Thursday night).”

All that stood in the way of the Eagles running the table in the regular season was a two-point loss to Elba in week two.

Since that game, GHS has reeled of eight-straight wins, to improve to 9-1 overall.

A big reason for that record was the same reason for the big win Thursday night – the running back duo of junior Reginald Foster and senior Marcus Jackson.

On the fifth play of the game, Foster intercepted a Kyle Eriksen pass, which set up the first GHS score of the night, a 21-yard run by Foster.

That touchdown set off a chain reaction of points for the Eagles, as the team would score 19 in the first quarter, thanks to two touchdown runs of 88 and 37 yards by Jackson.

Foster would open up the second quarter with a 37-yard touchdown run to put his team up 25-0.

After Providence Christian put seven on the board thanks to a Eriksen touchdown pass, the Eagles again found pay dirt, this time with quarterback Jerome Lawrence getting into the mix with a 5-yard touchdown run.

On the next possession, Foster again reached the end zone, this time from 35 yards out.

That score would put GHS up 37-7 midway through the second.

But the dynamic duo would not stop there.

After another Eriken touchdown pass, Jackson would score his third touchdown of the half, after rushing from 63 yards out to cross the goal line.

Providence Christian would score one last time before the half to make it a 44-21 game.

At the half, the Eagles tallied up 443 yards of total offense with just three first downs on 18 plays.

Foster and Jackson combined for 344 yards and six touchdowns on 10 carries.

On the first play of the second half, Jackson was again off to the races, this time rushing for a 71-yard touchdown to give the Eagles a 51-21 lead.

After Providence Christian dropped the ensuing kickoff, GHS found the end zone again, this time with Deion Merritt scoring on a 10-yard run.

Merritt would again find the end zone three possessions later from 10 yards out to give GHS a 65-21 lead.

Providence Christian would score a late touchdown to get to 28.

Goshen finished with 608 yards of total offense, with Jackson getting 259 and Foster with 155.

Lawrence finished 82 on five carries and Merritt finished with 70 on six carries.

“We are all working hard on this team,” Foster said after the game. “Every single one of us.

“My offensive line is doing a great job for me – without them, I wouldn’t be able to do anything. This win and this season means a lot. But now, it’s a new season.”

For the regular season, both Eagle running backs eclipsed the 1,000-yard marker as Jackson finished with 1,303 yards and Foster finished with 1,067.

“This has been a great season, and to win on senior night is something I will never forget,” Jackson said.

“Before the game, all the seniors got together and told each other we were going to give it all we got for this game. And that’s what we did.”

Even with the win, there were some aspects of his team’s play that Snyder said needed a lot of improving.

“I thought our defense got a little complacent in the second quarter, and that is a big concern for me,” the coach said.

“If we want to go deep into the playoffs, we are going to need to focus on what we need to be doing. Providence Christian is a team that can throw the ball well, and they showed that (Thursday night). Our defense has to be able to defend the pass better. Hopefully, this will be a lesson learned for our guys.”

Another aspect was the GHS kicking game.

The Eagles missed five of their first seven extra-point attempts.

“We have to improve there,” Snyder said. “Have to.

“But what I did like seeing was that as the game went on, we got better (with the extra-points attempts) and that is something that we have preached to the guys all season long – work to get better.”

Now, the Eagles will prepare for its next opponent in the second season, the Mobile Christian Leopards.

“The regular season is over, it’s a brand new season,” Snyder said.

“Our winning streak is over. We can’t focus on what we did these past 10 games. We have to get back to work on Monday and prepare for what’s next for us. We have to prepare to get the job done.”