BUTLER — Big plays were the difference in Friday’s cross-county battle between Garrett and Eastside for the Train Trophy.
Simply put, the Blazers had more than the Railroaders — all in the passing game — as the hosts celebrated homecoming with a 28-8 win.
Eastside improved to 3-2 in all games. Garrett is 2-3 with the loss.
The Blazers piled up nearly 400 yards of total offense, including 220 yards through the air. Quarterback Laban Davis was 9-of-15 with four touchdown passes.
Receiver Lane Burns caught touchdown passes of 19, 65 and 54 yards. Dylan Bredemeyer caught another TD pass for 32 yards.
Garrett ran for 180 yards, including 103 from senior Seth VanWagner. The Railroaders had 232 yards of total offense.
Each team turned the ball over twice — Eastside on two fumbles, Garrett on two interceptions.
The Blazers took the opening kickoff 81 yards in 10 plays for the game’s first score.
The trio of Davis and running backs Matt Firestine and Dax Holman took care of things on the ground. Davis connected with Burns 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 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 Dylan Bredemeyer, but Garrett’s Cole Bergman stopped 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 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, found Burns wide open over the middle. Burns did the rest, turning that into a 65-yard TD play. 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.
The win makes four straight victories for the Blazers over Garrett. The Railroaders hold a 28-17 lead in the all-time series.
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.