PEMBERVILLE — At the newly dedicated Freedom Field at Jerry Rutherford Stadium, Eastwood and Rossford played a marathon football game that started one day and ended the next.
The game kicked off at 7 p.m. Friday and finished just past midnight Saturday with the Eagles winning the Northern Buckeye Conference tilt, 37-19.
However, that including a two hour and 18-minute lightning delay.
Eastwood junior linebacker Bryce Hesselbart said his team spent the down time keeping their minds on the task at hand.
“It was a great experience, but over the break we just stayed focused and stayed locked in. We had a vision in mind and that was to win,” Hesselbart said.
During the delay, Eastwood was leading 14-0 as senior quarterback Lake Boos converted on a 27-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Andrew Arntson and junior running back Bryce Koprowski-Kistner scored from one yard out.
However, Rossford began making a run once teams returned to play at 10:20 p.m. There still was plenty of football to be played with 8:56 remaining in the first half.
After two second quarter TDs, Rossford junior quarterback Alex Williams scored on a 1-yard run on the opening drive of the second half. Suddenly the Bulldogs trailed by less than a field goal, 21-19, with 8:32 left in the third quarter.
That’s when Eastwood’s offense and defense went to work, shutting out the Bulldogs the rest of the way and adding two touchdowns and a safety to put the game on ice.
Lake Boos scored Eastwood’s first touchdown after the delay on a 17-yard run with 1:02 remaining in the half, putting the Eagles’ up, 21-12.
After Rossford’s run to make it a two-point game in the third quarter, Lake Boos hit Arntson, who was wide open, on a 39-yard touchdown pass. It was Arntson’s second TD reception of the game.
“We ran them, and they were open. (No.) ‘Four’ (Lake Boos) gave me a good ball on the first one and on the second one, so it was a fun night,” Arntson said.
Lake Boos completed 11 of 13 passes for 209 yards, including six to junior brother Case Boos for 103 yards.
Koprowoski-Kistner ran for 64 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns, including the Eagles’ final score, a 1-yard run that nailed the door shut with 5:05 remaining in the game.
Williams completed 22 of 37 passes for 345 yards and two touchdowns, including a 35-yard TD pass to junior wide receiver Nevan Hanthorn and an 18-yard strike to senior receiver Ben Morrison, both in the second quarter.
Hanthorn caught four passes for 106 yards, junior receiver Jake Morrison had two catches for 80 yards, Ben Morrison caught five passes for 46 yards and senior running back Trenton Bachmayer caught seven passes for 39 yards.
Eastwood coach Craig Rutherford said his defense needed to limit Williams’ passing game if the Eagles were to succeed.
“Obviously, their quarterback is one of the best in the league and they have some big receivers and a running back (Bachmayer) who catches the ball well out of the backfield,” Rutherford said.
The Eagles did hold the Bulldogs to minus-10 yards rushing, in part thanks to five sacks.
“It took a defensive effort and once they got into a rhythm there in the second half, I felt like our guys were playing really fast and having some fun flying around and hitting them.”
Hesselbart said Eastwood’s defense had something to prove after having difficulty stopping Elmwood’s run game a week earlier. Against Rossford, it was about stopping the pass.
“We have a great defensive team. We all play hard, and we have a bunch of athletes,” Hesselbart said.
“But we needed to change up the front a little bit to get some older guys in the back for coverage, and because of injuries, it was tough. But we got through it and got the win today.”
Eastwood improves to 7-1 overall and 4-1 in the NBC, while Rossford falls to 4-4 and 1-3. The Eagles were able to rebound after a 56-49 NBC loss to Elmwood (5-1, 2-1) the week prior.
“It was huge. Losing to Elmwood, it hurt after that game, especially after all that time we had won ‘the log’ (Battle of the Woods trophy),” Arntson said.
“But it was good to bounce back. We went extra hard at practice this week and we really got it done on the field tonight.”
Rutherford said that despite the loss to Elmwood, his team proved they are still contenders.
“We said after last week that everything that we worked for is still ahead of us,” Rutherford said.
“Obviously, we can still make the playoffs and the league championship is still there if we went out and took care of business every week.”
Both coaches added that the NBC is as deep as they have ever seen it.
“It’s as good a league as it’s been in a long time,” Todd Drusback said.
Rutherford added, “We know going into the year that the league was going to have a lot of depth and you just look around, and so many teams have such great playmakers.
“We knew that this was going to be a big one. They are a good team and they showed that tonight. They have a lot of great playmakers.”
Drusback was pleased to see his team give the Eagles a run but added that is not good enough.
“We had chances. We were proud of our kids, coming out of the delay and getting ourselves right back into the game,” Drusback said.
“Just like our other close losses, a play here, a play there, and unfortunately, they made a few more plays than we did. We’re going to keep battling. We’ll regroup and get ready for Lake next week.”