ELIZABETHTOWN — On an evening when East Bladen athletics honored four men for their long-time contributions in the Lenon Fisher Stadium press box, the Eagles ran into a Four County Conference buzz saw in visiting Wallace-Rose Hill and took a 51-13 thumping.
“This was an old-fashioned butt-whipping,” said East Bladen coach Robby Priest. “We’ve got some work to do.”
The Bulldogs wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. Taking the opening kickoff to its own 23, Wallace-Rose Hill used eight plays and a fourth-down conversion to score a touchdown with just 2:48 off the clock. The extra point gave the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead.
East Bladen used only 19 seconds to answer — that’s how long it took for Ethan Hines to haul in the ensuing kickoff at the Eagles’ 1 yard line and run 99 yards to the end zone. Jesus Ramos shanked the point after, but East Bladen was within one at 7-6 with 8:53 left in the first quarter.
The Eagles wouldn’t score again for 44 minutes and 5 seconds, thanks to five fumbles and a stiff Wallace-Rose Hill defense.
East Bladen stuffed the Bulldogs’ next possession, but couldn’t move the ball and had to punt. A bad snap gave Wallace-Rose Hill the ball at the East Bladen 36, but the Eagles again stopped the Bulldogs on a fourth-down play.
Once again, East Bladen couldn’t generate much offense and a fake punt on fourth down at its own failed, giving Wallace-Rose Hill the ball at the Eagles’ 35. It took just four plays to reach the East Bladen 8 and, on fourth and goal, the Bulldogs booted a 26-yard field goal for a 10-6 lead with 18 seconds left in the half.
East Bladen marched from its own 20 to the Wallace-Rose Hill 37 before a fumble fizzled the drive, but neither team did anything on their next possession.
Late in the second quarter, the Bulldogs took over at their own 35 and used 10 plays to drive to the end zone. The point after gave the visitors a 17-6 edge with 2:39 left in the half.
The Eagles fumbled again on the first play of their next possession, giving the ball to Wallace-Rose Hill at the East Bladen 19. Five plays later, the Bulldogs scored again and the PAT gave them a 24-6 margin.
East Bladen drove 20 yards into Wallace-Rose Hill territory, but the half ended there.
“We did this to ourselves, with bad tackling and fumbles,” said Priest at halftime. “We have to go out and win the second half.”
East Bladen took the opening possession of the third quarter at its own 20 … and went backwards, punting from its own 15 and giving Wallace-Rose Hill the ball at the Eagles 24 after a 23-yard return. It took the Bulldogs just three plays to score and the extra point gave them a 31-6 lead with 8:55 left in the period.
The Eagles took over at their own 13 and moved the ball to the 30 before a fumble went bounding into a Bulldog player’s arms and was returned for a 20 yards for a touchdown. The point after gave Wallace-Rose Hill a 38-6 lead.
“When it rains, it pours,” said East Bladen defensive coordinator Mark Little.
A fumble on East Bladen’s next possession gave Wallace-Rose Hill the ball on the Eagles’ 43, where a pass went the distance for a score. The kick was good and put East Bladen in a 44-6 hole with 4:20 left in the third.
The Eagles put together a nine-play drive to the Wallace-Rose Hill 44, but the march fizzled on a fourth-down try early in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs needed just three plays to cover the 56 yards and the point after gave the visitors a 51-6 lead with 9:37 left in the game — starting a running clock.
After a three and out by the Eagles, Wallace-Rose Hill fumbled on its first play and Michael Walter pounced on it for East Bladen at the Bulldogs’ 36. Nikita Owens capped off a six-play drive with a 16-yard touchdown run with 48 seconds left to play, Ramos booted the extra point and pulled East Bladen to within 51-13.
“They’re pretty good,” Priest said. “We’ve had some people out, so I knew there would be some rust and we had some hiccups. But I really don’t like how we responded in the second half.”
Ethan Hines led East Bladen’s ground game with 84 yards on 20 carries and his brother Eian Hines had 50 yards on 15 carries. Through the air, Alex Coates was 2-for-3 for 7 yards.
At halftime, the Eagles renamed the press box for three men — Lyn Shaw (41 years of service on the PA), Jim McLaney (48 years of service on the clock) and Chicky Robbins (38 years of service on the clock) — and named the media booth for Robert G. Hester (50 years of radio broadcasting).
The loss drops East Bladen to 7-2 overall and 3-2 in the conference, while Wallace-Rose Hill improves to 8-1, 5-0.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.