BUTLER — Eastside’s football team is starting to become stingy when it comes to the Train Trophy, emblematic of the annual Train Game with Garrett.
Friday’s 28-8 decision marked the fourth straight victory in the series for the Blazers and sixth in the past seven meetings.
The Railroaders own a 28-17 series lead.
In front of a big homecoming crowd, Eastside survived two turnovers and a rash of penalties in the win.
“We executed when we had to. Now, the thing is we’ve got to execute for 48 minutes,” said Eastside coach Todd Mason.
“We’ve got to quit putting the football on the ground and we’ve got to quit making crazy penalties at crucial times.
“We overcame a lot, so I’ve got to give the offensive team credit for that,” Mason said. “At the same time, we won’t have to be overcoming all of these things if we do things right the first time.”
The Blazers (3-2) piled up nearly 400 yards of total offense and did enough to limit Garrett’s triple-option running attack to 180 yards and 232 yards of total offense.
Quarterback Laban Davis threw for 220 yards and four touchdowns. Three of those went to receiver Lane Burns for 19, 65 and 54 yards. Dylan Bredemeyer had a TD grab for 32 yards.
Garrett running back Seth VanWagner carried 15 times for 103 yards to lead his team’s offense.
Eastside wasted little time getting on the board, taking the opening kickoff 81 yards in 10 plays.
The trio of Davis and running backs Matt Firestine and Dax Holman gained most of it on the ground. Davis connected with Burn for the first of their three scores. Jaiden Baker’s extra point kick had Eastside in front with 7 minutes, 3 seconds left in the first.
Garrett (2-3) got big yardage from Clayton Fielden on one play to get the ball near midfield, but Eastside stopped the visitors on downs and started the other direction.
Firestine ran three times while Holman, Davis and Wade Miller ran once each. Davis added a 13-yard completion to Bredemeyer, but Garrett’s Cole Bergman slowed the scoring threat with a sack at his team’s 17-yard line.
On the next play, Eastside’s signals got crossed, leaving Davis no one to hand the ball off to. He threw it away, but with no receiver in the area, the Blazers were for intentional grounding, ending the threat early in the second.
The Railroaders kept the ball on the ground for 11 plays and reached the Eastside 20, but the Blazers’ Hayden Gardner stopped VanWagner behind the line of scrimmage on a fourth-down run.
Garrett got the ball right back when Kraig Smith recovered an Eastside fumble near midfield.
On first down, the Blazers stuffed VanWagner again, and the Railroaders had to punt, giving the ball to the Blazers at the 24.
Davis completed a pass to Bredemeyer for 11 yards, and in the hurry-offense, Davis found Burns wide open over the middle. Burns did the rest, outrunning the Garrett defense for a 65-yard TD. Baker’s kick made it 14-0 Eastside with 1:11 left in the half.
Garrett threatened late in the half. Levi Follett completed four passes to three different receivers, but Eastside’s Dawson Smyth picked off a pass on the final play of the half.
The Railroaders went three-and-out on their first possession of the third, but got the ball back when Eastside fumbled the ball at the Garrett 5.
VanWagner bulled his way for eight yards, but two plays later, Follett, under heavy pressure, was picked off by Eastside’s Johnny Eck at the 45.
Eastside made that turnover hurt. On the third play, Davis and Burns hooked up once more, this time on a screen pass. A good downfield block turned a big play into a touchdown. Baker’s kick made it 21-0 Blazers with 3:41 left in the third.
Garrett went three-and-out once again, and Eastside added one more score before the quarter ended. This time, Bredemeyer caught a 32-yard TD pass from Davis. The extra point made it 28-0 with 1:05 left in the quarter.
The Railroaders ended Eastside’s shutout bid when VanWagner broke free for a 27-yard touchdown run with 6:21 to play. Jonathan Badger made the conversion run to end the scoring.
Turnovers and penalties are always sources of frustration for football coaches.
“I’m not upset. I’m just frustrated that we’re committing many penalties and too many turnovers,” Mason said. “Last week (against Churubusco), we didn’t have any and we dominated.
“Tonight, I don’t know how many (turnovers) we had. We can’t do that.”
Both teams return to divisional play Friday.
Eastside travels to Prairie Heights in an NECC Small Divison game. Garrett hosts West Noble in an NECC Big Division contest.