BUTLER — Turnovers and penalties were the difference between two evenly-matched football teams at Butler Friday.
Class A No. 4 Adams Central took advantage of three turnovers, costly penalties and a well-executed fake punt play to defeat host Eastside 21-14.
The Jets improved to 2-0. Eastside’s record is 1-1.
“We shot ourselves in the foot all night long, and you can’t do that against a good football team,” said Blazer head coach Todd Mason.
“What’d we have, three turnovers? (They) had a fake punt that led to their first score. Those are things you just can’t do.”
Eastside was flagged eight times for 55 yards, many of the illegal procedure variety. The hosts threw two interceptions and lost a fumble. Conversely, Adams Central played a clean game, with just one penalty (five yards) and no turnovers.
Each team scored on its second possessions of the contest.
Eastside struck first when quarterback Laban Davis scored on a short TD run following two plays that covered 18 yards. Davis ran for one and completed a pass to Phoenix Smyth for the other one.
With 7 minutes, 18 seconds left in the first, the Blazers led 7-0.
Adams Central’s second possession carried into the second quarter, and sophomore upback Alex Currie took the direct snap on a fake punt for six yards and a drive-preserving first down at the Eastside 45.
From there, sophomore fullback Blake Heyerly ran three straight times, including a big 38-yard gain, before quarterback Dallas Schwaller scored from the one with 9:29 left in the half.
Heyerly turned in a big play on defense, intercepting a Davis pass at his own 36 three plays later.
The Jets struck quickly, as Schwaller found sophomore Joshua Mosser all alone behind the defense, resulting in a 69-yard touchdown pass. Kaylen Sprunger, the Jets’ female kicker, made the extra point for a 14-7 lead with 7:44 to play in the half.
Eastside turned the ball over late in the half, but survived unscathed.
The third quarter started with a big possession for the Jets after the Blazers seemingly had them stopped.
During a punt return, the Blazers were called for holding, and Adams Central got the ball back at the home team’s 37. On consecutive plays, the Eastside defense rose up, however, stopping Heyerly — first by Chase Leeper and then by Lane Cleckner, the latter on fourth down.
The Blazers turned the momentum from that defensive stop into points on the scoreboard following a nearly seven-minute drive.
It was a steady diet of Eastside’s Matt Firestine, sprinkled with a 15-yard pass from Davis to Ethan Farnsworth and two runs by Wade Miller.
Firestine bulled his way into the end zone from eight yards out with 7.6 seconds left in the third. Eastside’s female kicker, Jaiden Baker, made the extra point to even the score at 14.
The Jets grabbed the momentum right back however, as a big return by Currie gave his team the ball near midfield to start the fourth.
Senior running back Dalton Gerber ran past several Blazers to gain 29 yards to the Eastside 17. Four plays later, Heyerly scored from the one. The Blazers turned it over on their next possession, but forced a three-and-out by the Jets to get the ball back with 5:30 to play.
Starting at his own 20, Davis completed a pass to Lane Burns covering 20 yards, but Eastside was flagged for two costly penalties — illegal procedure and holding — the latter coming after Davis had run for a possible first down.
A fourth down double pass attempt — a lateral by Davis to Burns and a Burns to Dylan Bredemeyer — fell incomplete, and Adams Central got the ball back with 2:28 to go.
On first down, Heyerly spun out of a tackle at the line of scrimmage to gain 14 yards to the Eastside 36. He followed that with another big run to push the ball to the 22.
From there, the Jets ran out the clock to end the contest.
“One thing I liked is we never quit once,” Mason said. “They were flying around, they were doing everything they could trying to win a football game.
“We’ve just got to get the game to slow down a little bit and maybe do some things where maybe it’s an easier read or an easier situation.
“I thought our O-line did some good things, and I thought our D-line did some good things,” he continued.
“It was a heck of a ballgame. We’ve just got to take care of the football. You can’t turn it over three times.”