Thursday September 6, 2012 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
Alex Smythe ran for 129 yards in Eden's 28-26 win over East Aurora to kick off the 2012 season. (File photo courtesy of Ron Larson)
Eden has experienced plenty of successes over the past three seasons, but not one of those teams came from behind to win a game Head coach Chuck Tilley likes that the youngest of his groups yet in his four years with the program started the season breaking that streak.
After allowing 84- and 68-yard touchdown throws in consecutive first quarter drives, Eden overcame a six-point deficit and then held off East Aurora for a 28-26 win in the Class B South opener for both teams on Saturday (Sept. 1).
“I like the fact that we were able to come back to get a win,” Tilley said. “It’s a good character-building thing and I’m very happy about that. We had some defensive coverages break down and some guys flat out fell down. Some of that is just youth and inexperience and we’ll just have to get better at that.”
Tilley believes it’s going to be an interesting season for a capable Raiders team but one that may also take some time to reach its potential. Because of that, Eden may let some teams hang around.
“I was worried about this game because I knew they returned a lot of kids,” Tilley said of East Aurora, which played many of its sophomores last year during a down season. “Even though they’re junior dominant, too, they have a lot of kids who played last year, where as I have a lot of rookies, so we had to overcome it.”
In fact, with the line already missing a starter due to injury only two seniors started on offense. One of the two sophomores on the offensive line was called up just four days prior to the opener. But that didn’t stop junior workhorse back Alex Smythe from gaining 129 yards on 28 carries with two touchdowns to lead the offense.
After playing typical Eden football on the first drive of the game, pounding the ball all eight plays during a 72-yard drive, the Raiders used a more balanced attack to sustain its offense. On that opening drive, Smythe ran for 41 yards, including a two-yard touchdown.
“I had to rely a little more on the passing game and the outside running game — some of the other things that we do,” Tilley said. But it was fine; it worked for us.”
Senior quarterback Matt Bialy hit a number of key drive-sustaining passes in finishing 7 of 12 for 98 yards with a touchdown. He threw that score on the first play of a drive following Eden recovering a fumbled punt, hitting senior tight end Jon Lyndsley on a 23-yard score, tying the game at 13 apiece with 10:38 left in the second quarter.
East Aurora had stormed into the lead as Dan Reischuck got open on two moderate pass patterns and after hauling in the passes from Alec Hibit, ran by the Eden defense backfield for a pair of scores. Both Hibit and Reischuck were in on three scores for the Blue Devils.
Eden’s defense settled down afterward, allowing the Raiders to get back into the lead on an impressive last-minute drive in the first half. Smythe finished off the 12-play drive on a five-yard sweep to the left side with 19 seconds left. Eden went up 21-13 on a successful two-point pass from Baily to Lyndsley.
The Blue Devils weren’t done scoring themselves. On their first drive of the second half, Hibit ran twice for 40 yards and Reischuck finished off a quick scoring drive with a 15-yard touchdown run to cut Eden’s lead to 21-19. The two-point pass attempt was no good.
Eden came up empty on a 16-play drive with a missed short field goal a few minutes into the fourth quarter. East Aurora went right back to the air on its next possession and this time, Eden’s defensive backfield stepped up with a pair of pass breakups to help force a punt.
On the ensuing possession, the Raiders all but put the game away as Joe Tripi capped an eight-play drive with a three-yard touchdown run. Lyndsley’s successful point after attempt put Eden up by nine with 4:49 left. Hibit hit Frank Nigro on a five-yard touchdown to give East Aurora an ounce of hope, but the onsides kick that followed with under a minute to play was recovered by Eden.
“Offensively we were pretty solid for having two starting sophomores on the offensive line, one we had to pull up just a couple of days ago,” Bialy said. “Smythe did what he does, our defense stopped the run and I was able to hit guys that were wide open. I had it easy.”
“We got over (the two long touchdown passes). I think every kid of this team has a short memory,” he added.
Aiding the offensive effort was junior fullback Garrett DiStefano, who ran with force on his way to 68 yards on 11 carries. Defensively, Brandon Ketterer, Connor Gallivan, Smythe, DiStefano and Lyndsley all delivered big hits, some for losses, while Kyle Wagner recorded a sack and Brady Bermingham added a number of pass breakups. Tripi finished with seven tackles.A Look Ahead to Week 2
Friday, September 7
Williamsville South at Hamburg 7 p.m.
Eden at Springville 7:30 p.m.
Lake Shore at Lackawanna 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, September 8
Holy Trinity at St. Francis 1 p.m.
Frontier at Bennett 4 p.m.