Game Summaries & Headlines.
(Free Lance Star Photo by Peter Kihelka)
This one was called “The Game of the Year”, The Clash of the Titans”, and the “Battle of the Unbeaten”. The Massaponax Panthers came to Eagles Stadium on Friday night to take on the Eagles in a game that received incredible hype. Nothing had received as much hype since Y2K, and when it was over the Forge Eagles were the ones HYPED UP taking a 35-0 victory to remain unbeaten on the season.
The big crowd had to wait for this game to get started as both the Panthers and the game officials were late arrivals due to the traditional Friday night I-95 crawl. The game was only delayed 10 minutes, but once we got started, it was the Forge who threw the first punch and the Panthers were still searching for the fast lane. In retrospect, it would not be a stretch to say that the local traffic was the only thing that delayed the Forge offense on this night.
The “good guys” took the opening kickoff and the Eagles went 80 yards in nine plays to open the scoring. On a first and ten at the Panther 27, junior quarterback Madden Lowe hit Zach Kindel with a pass and the speedy senior did the rest with 10:04 left in the first quarter. Phillip Lovelace tacked on the extra point and just like that the Eagles had a 7-0 lead.
The Eagle defense took the field and forced the powerful Panther offense into a three and out, to give the ball back to the offense. Part of the hype going into this game were the comments made in the local papers by some of the Panther players. “Nobody in the conference can run on us” was one quote that got the attention of the entire Forge team. Maybe nobody has run on the Panthers because they do not have Ernesto Bowen running the football. The legs of Bowen and Lowe were featured on the second Forge drive. The Eagles rumbled down the field on a 75 yard drive in eleven plays, They mixed it up at the end with Lowe tossing an 18 yard screen pass to Josh Johnson who took it in to give the Forge a 14-0 lead with 3:35 left in the first quarter.
On the next Massaponax drive they turned the offense over to running back Elijah Christopher but he found the Eagle defense as congested as the early evening traffic and after a first down, they had to punt the ball back to Forge to close out the initial frame.
When the second quarter started, the “good guys” wasted no time in stretching their lead to 21-0. On the third play of the quarter, Lowe handed the rock to Bowen and he took off on a 38-yard jaunt to pay dirt, running over Panthers and leaving them in his wake. The senior broke free just outside the 20-yard line making a safety miss while giving him the Stanky Leg, made popular by GSBoyz some half dozen years ago. The GREEN WALL and the home fans were in a state of euphoria and the Panther fans in the visiting stands started to wonder, “I drove in traffic for this”?
The Forge was not done, and more importantly, Bowen told the crowd he had one more in him. Late in the second, the Eagles eliminated any doubt of a second half comeback when Bowen carried for another Eagle score from 34 yards away with 2:10 left in the half.
The Panthers only real threat on the night came from the foot of place kicker Jonathan Kim. The Massaponax offense drove the ball down to the Eagle 27 yard line in the final minute and Panther coach Eric Ludden sent out Kim to get his troops on the board before the break. Kim’s 44-yard field goal attempt was wide and the Eagles went to the halftime locker room with commanding 28-0 lead.
The Forge held the Panthers on their first drive out of the locker room but could not get their offense started early as they fumbled the ball away. The Panthers took it down to the Forge 39 but could not convert on a 4th and 15 and turned the ball over to the Eagles.
The Eagles kept the Massaponax defense off balance on a 61 yard, 5-play drive. Each time the Panthers would blitz, the Eagles would run right at the hole that the linebacker came from and picked up big chunks of Eagle Stadium Bermuda. The Forge had a 1st and 10 at the Panther 15 when Lowe handed to Max Kauthen. The hole that Kauthen ran through was so big, they can hold the Columbus Day Parade in it on Monday, and the junior still would have had room to run. The 15-yard TD run increased the Eagles lead to 35-0, started the running clock and started a plethora full of substitutions on the Forge sideline.
In the final quarter the Panthers continued run in place while the Eagles kept the ball on the ground. The Forge ran the clock down on every snap and just handed the rock to the stable full of running backs. Late in the quarter, the Forge drove into the red zone late, but had no intention of running up the score on this one, and was satisfied with a dominating 35-0 win. It was the second win by Forge in consecutive years, after a 36-7 romp down at Massaponax a year ago.
Next up the Eagles will travel to Stafford next Friday night to take on the Indians. This one was a statement game, and everybody in the Commonwealth District took notice. Another local publication had another interesting quote on Friday morning, and it came from Forge Coach John Brown. Brown was quoted as saying his offense “hasn’t yet hit full stride”. If Friday’s performance was not full stride, it is going to mean some sleepless nights for defensive coordinators left on the Eagle schedule.
HOME IS WHERE THE FORGE IS: Friday night was the first true home game the Eagles had all season. The house was packed and the GREEN WALL impressed with a tremendous spirit and was in FULL THROAT all night long. Things were happening so fast early, more trash cans met their demise, and the paper from the confetti guns made it a festive atmosphere in the home stands.