Golden Eagles rout South Davidson 44-0

DENTON | The start of football season breeds optimism for every team in the state. Last year’s slate is wiped clean — wins and losses gone with the graduating class. Before the first kickoff, hope for a stellar season fills the air at every stadium.

East Davidson entered Friday night’s tilt with county rival South Davidson with not only a clean slate but by ushering in a new era of Golden Eagle football. Vance Hanner, taking over the helm for East following an 11-year run by Bryan Lingerfelt, made his varsity coaching debut in Denton — and what a debut it turned out to be as East jumped out to a 27-point first-quarter lead en route to a 44-0 victory.

After the game, Hanner was excited about his first win and getting the debut out of the way. But, he was already looking forward to next week’s game against Providence Grove.

“I’d say the next two games are the biggest two games of our season because our kids need early confidence and if we could, you know, pull out a win next week and the following week, the mindset starts to change and that’s what we’ve got to have. So, next week’s huge and the following week’s huge for East Davidson,” Hanner said.

East forced a three-and-out on South’s first possession of the season, pinning the Wildcats deep in their own territory. After forcing a South punt, East took over at the South 38 yard line. From there, the Golden Eagles wasted no time getting in the end zone.

Tailback Michael Ramos raced down the near sideline before running over a Wildcat defender near the goal line for a 26-yard touchdown run that put East up 6-0. The extra point was no good but it wouldn’t take long for the Golden Eagles to score again.

A stingy and aggressive East defense forced another three-and-out for the host Wildcats who were forced to punt again on their second possession. Ramos fielded the punt at his own 30 yard line and electrified the visiting crowd with what looked to be a 70-yard punt return touchdown.

However, a block in the back penalty against the Eagles negated the return and put East’s offense back on the field — where they would immediately capitalize. On first-and-ten from their own 37, Bryce Bolen hit a hole around left end and outran three South defenders for a 63-yard score and the route was on. East missed their second consecutive extra point but pushed their lead to 12-0.

On the next drive, facing a second-and-10 from their own 41 yard line, South’s Preston Owens fumbled and East recovered, setting up their third straight scoring drive. On second down Bolen took the handoff from quarterback Austin Wallace and exploded for his second long touchdown run of the evening, this one a 41-yard jaunt that gave him 108 yards on three first-half carries. This time Andrew Hoosier nailed the extra point as East pushed their lead to 19-0 with more than five minutes remaining in the first quarter.

The next drive resulted in another Wildcat fumble, once again setting up East’s offense on the South Davidson side of the fifty. On the first play of the drive, Wallace hit a streaking Kelvin Pena down the near sideline in perfect stride for a 38-yard scoring strike. Hoosier rolled out to his right on the extra point attempt and hit Nathan Campbell for the 2-point conversion giving the Golden Eagles a commanding 27-0 lead with 3:20 left in the first quarter.

East linebacker Toby Craven stuffed Owens on a third-and-four carry to force another three and out near the end of the quarter. Ramos then picked up 50 more yards on two more carries deep into South territory. After a  holding penalty pushed the Eagles back ten yards to end the quarter, Wallace and Pena hooked up again for their second 38-yard scoring pass on the evening and Hoosier’s extra point gave East a 34-0 lead to start the second quarter.

East’s Salvador Pecina nailed a 30-yard field goal with just under a minute left in the half, staking East to a 37-0 halftime advantage.

At the end of a dazzling first half of football for East on both sides of the ball, the Eagles had racked up 330 yards of total offense, including 254 yards on the ground.

In the second half East was able to get their reserves some valuable playing time and preserve the season-opening shutout.

Following a scoreless third quarter, East closed out the scoring after recovering a high snap on a fourth down punt attempt at the South Davidson 1 yard line. Hoosier plunged in for the score and then kicked his third extra point of the game to cap off East’s 44-0 win – and give Hanner his first career head coaching victory.

The Golden Eagles finished the night with 384 yards of total offense, led by Bolen’s 108 yards on three carries and two scores. Ramos finished with six carries for 94 yards and one score. Both of Wallace’s completions went for scores to Pena as he finished the night 2-for-4 for 76 yards and two touchdowns. Pena had two receptions for 76 yards and two scores.

Defensively, East held the Wildcats to 97 total yards. South carried the ball 37 times for only 78 yards. South’s freshman quarterback, Billy Caulder, was 2-for-12 for 19 yards but was hampered by several dropped passes from the Wildcat receiving corps.