With the weather turning colder, the East Hickman Eagles gift-wrapped a number of presents to its battle-tested opponent on Friday night–turnovers. However, those visitors, the Creek Wood Red Hawks, couldn’t capitolize on the Big Blue miscues and left the door open for an Eagles comeback that left a bad taste in the mouths of Red Hawk fans. East Hickman rattled off 21 unanswered points in a shocking 21-17 come-from-behind win that makes Creek Wood’s playoff hopes that much harder to realize.
The collegiate spread-offense of the Eagles was ready to show off from the start, as East Hickman got a good return on the opening kickoff. However, on the first play of the game, East Hickman fumbled a handoff, and the Red Hawks recovered on the Eagle 35 yard line just 21 seconds into the game. Ian Spence connected on a play action pass to Kyle Klotz for a 16 yard touchdown pass, and less than 90 seconds into play Creek Wood had the lead 7-0. About two and a half minutes later, lineman Cody Hargrove intercepted an ill-advised East Hickman pass and set the Red Hawks up at the 14 yard line; about 30 seconds later, Justin Tummins rushed for a 5 yard score, and Creek Wood posted a 14-0 lead just over 4 and a half minutes into the game.
Luck was not done smiling on the Red Hawks once the Eagles’ offense started to click. East started its next drive at its own 38, but a big play flipped the field and got the Eagles to the Red Hawk 16. The drive stalled, and a key Klotz stop on 3rd down and 3 forced a field goal try. Either the snap or placement was off, or East called a gutsy fake, but the kicker got the ball on a pitch, but the CHWS defense stopped him well short of the first down for a turnover on downs–meaning that the Red Hawk defense has caused turnovers on all three Eagle possessions. Another huge Tummins run gets Creek Wood to the East Hickman 38, but an odd penalty call leads to the Red Hawks punting from near midfield to the East 8 yard line. During their last drive of the first quarter, the Eagles fumble the football once again, setting up Creek Wood at the 21 yard line with just over a minute into the opening stanza.
Creek Wood started the second quarter with the ball at the Eagles’ 13 yard line, but couldn’t convert on 3rd down, so Spence would nail a 28 yard field goal to run the Red Hawk lead to 17-0. Both sides would trade punts, before East got on track once again, converting a 3rd and long, getting another first down, and scoring on an 8 yard touchdown run on a third and short to get on the board 17-7. Creek Wood’s offense would stall on the ensuing drive, but the Spence punt would go out of bounds at the Eagle 11 with 1:16 left in the half. With just 29.1 seconds left in the first half, the East Hickman airshow would connect on a 31 yard touchdown strike, and just like that the Eagles would cut the lead to 17-14 at the half.
Coming out of the locker room, the Red Hawks were fired up, converting a first down on a pass to Wyatt Page before getting a long passing touchdown to Ashton Ferguson. The touchdown was called back for an offensive facemask penalty, taking away points but still giving Creek Wood first and goal. Unable to punch it in, the Red Hawks took to the air on fourth down, but Spence’s pass was incomplete. After converting a first down, however, East proved the fumble bug had not gone away as they fumbled twice–losing the second one to the Red Hawks at the 35 yard line with 3:15 left in the 3rd. East Hickman would then intercept Spence again on a third down play and take over at the Creek Wood 37, before another fumble gave the Red Hawks the ball right back at their own 20 late in the sloppy third quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, CWHS was forced to punt, but on the prior play Spence–QB, kicker, and punter–had been taken down by the ankles, and had not gotten up before the officials called an injury time out. By rule, he had to come off for a play, so Sam Tummons came in and punted the ball, which was returned to the Eagle 35 at the 9:37 mark. A few plays later, the Eagles scored on a 50 yard touchdown pass, but it too was negated by a penalty. Creek Wood couldn’t deny the Eagles for long, however, as East took the lead 21-17 at the 6:17 mark, off a 34 yard pass catch and run. The Eagles had scored 21 unanswered points, and now had their first lead of the night, but Creek Wood had 6 minutes to mount a comeback.
A decent kick return was made even better with a big penalty on the Eagles, then Spence found Ferguson for another first down. Another 15-yard penalty on East gave Creek Wood another, much needed first down, then Ian Spence ran for another first down. Deep in the Eagles’ end, Creek Wood had to convert a 3rd down and short, but a Spence quarterback sneak was stuffed at the line. On fourth down, Creek Wood went with a designed quarterback run, but East Hickman sniffed out the rollout run to the right, and forced a turnover on downs. With just one timeout left, the Red Hawks needed a stop, but one of the Eagle running backs took a handoff into what looked more like a rugby scrum, and kept the pile moving just enough to move the chains. That late first down seemed to take the wind out of Creek Wood’s sails, so a couple of longer-than-average runs gashed the defense in the final minute and changed, before East went to the victory formation and knelt down on a shocking victory.
There weren’t many crushing hits in the game, especially with both sides showcasing the passing attack, so the Joel’s Body Shop Impact Stat of the game was a big deal–5 fumbles (4 lost) and 1 interception thrown by the East Hickman offense. That stat line would definitely need a bit of body work. The Advocate Play of the Game was Justin Tummins scoring on a 5 yard run early in the first quarter, helping the Red Hawks to a 14-0 lead at the time before half of the first quarter had expired, and putting all the momentum with the visitors. And the RFC Sports Player of the Game was Ashton Ferguson, who had a number of great catches including one for a first down, and added a receiving touchdown that was called back on an odd penalty call.
Creek Wood has one more home game next week, before finishing the regular season at Camden.