The opening game of the 2012 football season for Eaton Rapids was a case of “good news/bad news.”
The good news was that the Greyhound offense scored four touchdowns and put up a respectable 335 yards of total offense. The bad news is that the defense gave up 50 points, sending ER to a 50-28 defeat to Leslie on Aug. 24.
Head coach Craig Benton said that the team underachieved in his first game in charge of the program.
“I think we played all right. That wasn’t where we should be what our capabilities are,” Benton said. “We were kind of flat, and kind of soft. Our offense moved the ball fairly decent, but our defense was nowhere to be found.”
Greyhound quarterback Jared McDaniel threw three touchdown passes in the game, and passed for 260 of his team’s 335 yards of total offense, in what looked like a shootout from the start of the game.
Leslie scored first, on a 44-yard run on the first play from scrimmage of the contest. That would be a recurring theme.
“We had a lot of guys going in wrong directions and miss assignments and miss tackles,” Benton said. “They had a lot of big runs through a lot of big holes. That’s not the defense we’ve had before this, or the way we’ve been playing.”
McDaniel and the Greyhounds responded quickly, with a 46-yard TD pass to James Cruz to tie the score 6-6 before a minute of game time had elapsed.
Jared Oberlin-Scott scored later in the first quarter for ER, on a 36-yard run, but a safety and two more Leslie touchdowns gave the Blackhawks a 22-14 lead going into the second quarter.
Leslie blew the game open in the second, with two rushing touchdowns that stretched the lead to 34-14 with 1:07 left in the half, but the Greyhounds came right back with a 20-yard TD pass from McDaniel to Oberlin-Scott.
Whatever momentum that late touchdown may have given ER going into the locker room at the break was squashed when Leslie ran the ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown. The 2-point conversion gave the Blackhawks a 42-22 lead at the half.
Both defenses tightened up in the second half, allowing just one TD each, a 3-yard Leslie run in the third quarter and a 22-yard TD pass from McDaniel to Jacob VanVliet in the fourth that made the final score 50-28.
Benton said that he is confident that the mistakes on defense that proved so costly in the loss can be fixed.
“We we went over it all in the films, went over with the guys where they need to be playing and how to play their positions,” he said. “They just have to get back to what they know how to do, we should be all right.”
He also said that the team can bounce back mentally from the loss.
“I’ve had all of these kids before,” Benton said. “In the past when they’ve had a bad loss, they’ve always bounced back, and even when they had a bad half they bounced back, so they are definitely capable of doing that. The attitude that they have shown this week is getting back on track.”
Eaton Rapids will hit the road for a special game this week, the Victory for Veterans benefit at Charlotte on Sept. 7.