ETBU’s football team trailed 2-0 after one quarter and led 14-9 at halftime but the second half saw the Tigers pour it on and pull out the 44-16 win over the Blazers Saturday. The Tigers are now 2-0 on the season while Belhaven is 0-2.
“Again this team, we talk about it, it’s just us beating ourselves. If we just execute, I think we have a pretty good team,” ETBU head football coach Brian Mayper said after the game. “Defensively, last week we started off slow but man, oh man, the defense was lights out tonight. Offensively, anybody who watched this ballgame saw a lot of points left out on the board, just little bitty mistakes and it’s mistakes on both sides. I know we gave up a touchdown offensively but it was just things we could control. So again, it’s about just eliminating mistakes and improving and getting better but we’re having a lot of fun out here.”
ETBU had 16 first downs on the game while passing for 219 yards and rushing for 96 for a total of 315 yards offense. Aaron Brown led ETBU’s passing game by going 12-of-22 for 159 yards and one touchdown. He also had six carries for 38 yards and a score. Troy Yowman was 2-for-8 for 60 yards and one interception. Cornelius Merchant rushed three times for 17 yards and one touchdown. He was also on the receiving end of a seven-yard touchdown pass. Jalen Blanton caught four passes for 62 yards. DeCarlos Frazier had three catches for 45 yards. KJ Kelley had two interceptions returned for touchdowns.
Belhaven had 20 first downs and finished the day with 361 yards of total offense, 217 of which came on the ground and 144 through the air. Mayowa Asagunla led Belhaven’s passing attack by going 11-of-23 for 105 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Ben Owens was 1-of-2 for 39 yards. Kolbe Blunt caught Belhaven’s only touchdown pass on the day and had 58 yards on two catches. Brad Foley led the team’s rushing attack with 20 carries for 84 yards.
Belhaven drove into ETBU territory but the Tigers defense forced a the Blazers to punt. ETBU’s offense started its first possession at its own six-yard line. A loose ball went into and out of the back of the end zone, resulting in a safety to give Belhaven an early 2-0 lead.
The Blazers returned to Tiger territory on their next drive and like the first one, it resulted in a punt.
ETBU started its next possession at the seven-yard line but came to an end when Kaleb O’Bryant caught and fumbled a pass that was scooped up by the Blazers whose drive started at the ETBU 41-yard line. However, the Blazers came up empty on a third straight drive after the Tigers forced a turnover on downs.
The Blazers were threatening to sore the first touchdown of the game but that went to the Tigers when KJ Kelly intercepted a pass and went the distance for a 94-yard pick six. Alberto Garcia’s extra point gave ETBU a 7-2 lead with 14:46 left in the first half.
Belhaven jumped back into the lead when Asagunla dumped it off to Brymer on a screen pass. Brymer then went the rest of the way for a 57-yard touchdown. The extra point made the score 9-7.
That lead only lasted six play and 71 yards as Brown found Williams in the end zone for a seven-yard touchdown pass to jump back in front with a 14-9 lead.
Asagunla scrambled and completed a 14-yard pass to Simpson to keep a drive alive deep in ETBU territory. The two connected again on a screen pass down to the 11-yard line. That was followed by an incomplete pass that led to a fourth-and-three. Asagunla went up the middle on a quarterback sneak and a measurement determined the quarterback had come up just inches short. The ball went back to ETBU with under a minute left in the first half. The Tigers took a knee and went into halftime with a 14-9 lead.
It didn’t take long for the Tigers to start moving the ball in the second half. Brown found Gray on a 27-yard strike to bring them into Blazers territory. A holding penalty advanced ETBU to the 15-yard line before a nine-yard run by Merchant set up his six-yard touchdown run. The PAT spread ETBU’s lead to 21-9.
ETBU’s back was to its end zone when the ball was stripped from Brown and picked up by Isaiah Blackmon who took it into the end zone for the touchdown, putting the Blazers within five points, 21-16, with 11:51 left in the third quarter.
With a little over two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Brown found Blanton for the completion just inside the one-yard line. Brown took it from there and punched it into the end zone on the quarterback keeper before the extra point spread ETBU’s lead to 28-16.
The final play of the game saw Kelley get his second pick six. Asagunla scrambled to avoid the sack and tossed a pass that was snagged by Kelley who went the distance from 52 yards, making the score 35-16 heading into the fourth quarter.
The second offensive play of the fourth quarter saw another ETBU interception. This time it was Kenneth Bradley on the pick. That led to a 34-yard field from Garcia to spread ETBU’s lead to 22.
Just a few plays later, Donovan Graham recovered a loose ball and took it 31 yards for the touchdown. The extra point was blocked, leaving the score at 44-16, leaving ETBU’s lead at 28.
ETBU was looking to add to its lead when Towman launched a pass toward the end zone but it was intercepted by Josh Lister at the one-yard line. Neither team was able to add any points to its total. The Tigers came away with the 44-16 win.
The Tigers will have a bye next week and will be back in action Saturday, Feb. 20. Belhaven will take on Southwestern on the road Saturday.