Football Team Falls To Eastbrook

Posted on September 16, 2018 in Fall Sports, Football

By CHUCK LANDIS – clandis@chronicle-tribune.com
MUNCIE — Eastbrook typically employs a ground-pound-pound and then pound some more offense, but Saturday afternoon at Ball State University’s Schuemann Stadium fans saw another side to the Panthers.

The Panthers unleashed their passing game and with good results and it provided the boost to a 52-20 victory over Oak Hill in the Central Indiana Conference quadruple-header. Quarterbacks Dylan Bragg and Mason Hale combined for three touchdown passes and were successful on all five of their attempts.

Granted, the Panthers never will be confused with today’s pass-happy brand of football practiced in the NFL. But Bragg and Hale’s 5-of-5 passing for 116 yards is a dynamic that will give opponents something else to considered in addition to their vaunted rushing attack.

“We had some opportunities (to pass), I guess,” Eastbrook coach Jeff Adamson said sheepishly. “But we’ve got two quarterbacks who can throw the ball well and some guys who can catch it.

“We haven’t had a lot of situations where we had to (throw) or times where it was good to get it out,” he added.

Eastbrook, ranked seventh in Class 2A by the Associated Press bounced back from its 34-28 loss to Mississinewa and improved to 4-1, 2-1 CIC at the midway point of the season.

Oak Hill dropped to 1-4, 1-2 and was in the game trailing 14-7 after Clayton McCorkle’s 3-yard pass to River Smith with 1:20 remaining in the opening quarter. But the Panthers raced out to a 45-13 halftime lead and rested their starters in the second half.

Clay Dalton was among those who had the second half off, but not before collecting four passes for 75 yards and two TDs, one each from Hale and Bragg. The tight end stunned the Eagles playing up against the run with an 18-yard reception on Eastbrook’s opening possession that led to Xaine Kirby’s 23-yard TD romp just 6:57 into the game.

“I love blocking for my running backs, but it’s always nice to get a touchdown or two in there every once in a while,” Dalton said. “(Oak Hill’s) defense really focused on the run and we snuck a couple passes in there and got a touchdown or two and that was what our game plan was going into it. It worked out pretty well for us.”

Dalton was wide open on 26- and 14-yard TD receptions from Bragg in the opening half. Bragg is 7-of-7 passing this season and each one has resulted in a TD. Hale threw his first TD, a 41-yard strike to Luke Boren with 10:29 left in the second quarter.

“(Oak Hill) got us in third and long and sometimes it was our procedure penalty on our offense or something like that,” Adamson said. “Another came on a I think one of them came after a good (36-yard punt) return and we wanted to take a shot. Those were the kind of situations we haven’t had in a while where we could do it.”

But the Panthers’ rushing offense was its usual formidable self and churned out 366 yards on 50 attempts with 13 different players taking turns carrying the football. When not throwing the ball, Bragg was breaking loose for 130 yards on six attempts and a TD that put the Panthers ahead 21-7 late in the first quarter. Kirby contributed 99 rushing yards with two TDs, and Justin Singer also ran for a score.

Oak Hill came out in a spread offense and had early success passing the ball with Clayton McCorkle finding Landry Ozmun on flat routes. Ozmun hauled in seven passes for 70 yards and McCorkle completed 13-of-21 for 121 yards and the TD but also was picked off twice.

The Eagles took the opening kickoff and were driving to Eastbrook’s 40-yard line when Hale intercepted McCorkle. It took the Panthers seven plays to score, and then after a quick Oak Hill three-and-out, Singer returned a punt 36 yards leading to the Bragg-to-Dalton TD hookup on the very next play.

Jon Holz scored on a 65-yard run for Oak Hill in the first half and finished with 84 yards on seven carries. Josiah Harvey scooped up a fumble and returned it 38 yards for a TD late in the game for the Eagles’ other score.

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