TUPPERS PLAINS, Ohio — A statement win.
The Eastern football team scored on its first six possessions and chalked up its most yards since Week 1 on Friday at East Shade River Stadium, as the Eagles soared to a 39-14 victory over Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division guest Belpre.
The Eagles (7-2, 5-2 TVC Hocking) — securing their first season with at least seven wins since 2010 — scored the game’s opening touchdown 2:47 into play, with Blake Newland finding paydirt from 29 yards out. Mason Dishong made his first of three point-after kick to give EHS the 7-0 lead.
Eastern was up 13-0 with 1:50 left in the period, as Newland punched in on a three-yard run, and then 1:45 into the second quarter, Steve Fitzgerald scored on a one-yard run to give the hosts a 20-0 edge.
Belpre ended the shut out bid with a 50-yard touchdown pass from Walker Feick to Cody Dougherty with 7:52 left in the half, and Tyce Church made his first of two point-after kicks to cut the Golden Eagle deficit to 13.
However, Eastern got six points back in less than two minutes, with Fitzgerald scoring on a 15-yard run at the 5:58 mark of the period. EHS added six more points with 16 seconds left in the half, as Brayden Smith caught a three-yard touchdown pass from Conner Ridenour, making the EHS lead 32-7 at the break.
Eastern’s first drive of the second half resulted in a five-yard touchdown run by Newland, making the Eagle lead 39-7 with 7:17 left in the third.
Belpre’s Nick Godfrey found the end zone on a two-yard run with 8:22 to play, but the Eastern ran the clock down and sealed the 39-14 win.
EHS claimed a 23-to-6 advantage in first downs, and a 392-to-158 edge in total offense, which included a 375-to-76 margin on the ground. Eastern also forced the game’s lone turnover, but was penalized nine times for 79 yards, while Belpre was sent back four times for 35.
Newland —who caught one 14-yard pass —carried the ball 24 times for a game-high 215 yards and three touchdowns for Eastern. Fitzgerald had 25 carries for 128 yards and two scores, while Brayden Smith had 32 yards on six carries, to go with one three-yard touchdown reception. Ridenour completed 2-of-4 pass attempts for 17 yards in the win.
Connor Baker led the guests on the ground with 46 yards on nine totes, followed by Godfrey with 21 on seven. Feick completed 3-of-6 passes for 82 yards and a score, while rushing four times for eight yards. Dougherty caught two passes for 77 yards and a touchdown, Church had one five-yard reception, while Logan Adams ran seven times and gained a yard.
Eastern will finish its regular season on Saturday at Southern.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.