ELIZABETHTOWN — East Bladen got 444 yards of offense, including 362 on the ground, and earned head coach Robby Priest his first season-opening win in three tries by handing visiting Fairmont a 50-30 loss.
“It gets the monkey off the back,” Priest said. “The boys played pretty well, knock on wood.”
As angry storm clouds swirled overhead and lightning flashed off to the south, it was the Eagles who supplied the early thunder. On Fairmont’s first possession, Dwight Campbell picked off a pass in the endzone to thwart a threat.
It took East Bladen just six plays to march 80 yards, with Larrell Murchison scoring the Eagles’ first touchdown of the season at the 9:15 mark on a 36-yard run. Jesus Ramos added the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
The Golden Tornadoes answered by moving out near midfield before punting, but the ball was muffed by East Bladen and recovered by Fairmont at the Eagles’ 11. Three passes, a penalty and a run, however, lost 10 yards and turned the ball back to East Bladen — and the Eagles went on a patented East Bladen march that featured 15 plays, 13 of which were on the ground, and moved the ball to the Fairmont 11 before Ty McMillian’s fourth-down pass was intercepted in the endzone early in the second quarter.
Fairmont moved the ball 29 yards out near midfield, but could go no further and turned the ball back to the Eagles. An unsportsmanlike penalty on the Fairmont sidelines moved the ball to the Golden Tornadoes’ 36, and East Bladen took seven plays to find pay dirt on a 6-yard run by Farrell Murchison. Ramos added the PAT and extended the lead to 14-0 with 3:31 left in the half.
Fairmont finally got on the board moments later, going 51 yards in four plays. Demond Gamble blocked Fairmont’s extra point, and East Bladen’s lead stood at 14-6 with 2:22 on the clock.
The Eagles took over at their own 47 after a pooch kick, and quickly picked up big yards on a pass from McMillian to Eian Hines — but the 29-yard catch was all but erased on a penalty. McMillian, however, came right back with a 26-yard pass that Hines made a diving catch on at the Fairmont 21. Two runs by Isaiah Young netted 16 yards to the Tornadoes’ 5, where Larrell Murchison banged it in for a touchdown with 38 seconds left in the half. A penalty of Fairmont moved the ball inside the 2 on the extra point, and Farrell Murchison ran in the two-point try for a 22-6 Eagles lead at halftime.
The second half started shaky for East Bladen when, on the first play from midfield, McMillian’s pass was blocked and picked off, giving Fairmont the ball at its own 45. From there, nothing worked and, after a three and out, a 14-yard punt set East Bladen up at its own 44.
Twelve rushing attempts later, highlighted by an 11-yard run by Ethan Hines and a 7-yard run on fourth and inches by Farrell Murchison, the Eagles found pay dirt when Farrell Murchison busted in from 2 yards out. Ramos added the point after to five the Eagles a 29-6 lead with 5:17 left in the third quarter.
The Tornadoes botched the squib kick and Zach Johnson recovered the fumble for East Bladen at the Fairmont 37. On the first play, McMillian hit Eian Hines with a 37-yard touchdown pass at the 5:03 mark and, after Ramos tacked on the PAT, East Bladen held a 36-6 lead.
Fairmont began its next possession at its 36 and, behind 12 plays and two fourth-down conversions, found the endzone with 18 seconds left in the quarter. A two-point run was stopped and East Bladen’s lead was cut to 36-12.
The Tornadoes then recovered their own squib kick at the East Bladen 47 and, three plays later, scored on a 31-yard touchdown pass just 49 seconds into the fourth quarter. The two-point run was stopped again, but Fairmont had closed the gap to 36-18.
East Bladen took the ensuing squib kick at its own 49 and, four runs later, Farrell Murchison scampered 21 yards around the left side for the touchdown with 9:32 remaining. Ramos added the kick and East Bladen led 43-18.
The Tornadoes didn’t quit, moving 63 yards and getting a 20-yard touchdown pass with 6:22 left. The two-point try was stuffed, and the Eagles’ lead was 43-24.
East Bladen moved the ball from its own 41 to the Fairmont 29 before getting stopped, and Fairmont went back to work with a little momentum — which was quickly halted when Eian Hines intercepted a Tornadoes pass and raced 55 yards for a touchdown. Ramos added the PAT and East Bladen’s lead was 50-24 with 3:35 left in the game.
Fairmont still kept coming, using six plays to drive 66 yards for a score at the 1:18 mark. The kick was no good and the Tornadoes trailed, 50-30 — which is where things ended moments later.
“This was a total team effort,” Priest said. “Farrell, Larrell and Isaiah all ran the ball well; Ty settled down and made a few good throws; and Eian came up with a big interception for us.
“The defense gave up more points than I wanted, but we have a young secondary and they’re still learning,” he added.
Farrell Murchison rushed for 157 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries, while Young rushed for 88 yards on 16 carries and Larrell Murchison had 65 yards and two touchdowns on six carries. Through the air, McMillian was 3-for-8 for 82 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Hines had two touchdowns, one on a pass from McMillian and one on the interceptoin return.