After a lightning delay of about 90 minutes, the Eastern Hancock football team caught fire.
On the first play, the Royals’ Jarrett Lewis hooked up with Austin Smith for a 54-yard touchdown to push the lead to 20-7.
That was the start of 28 third-quarter points en route to the Class 2A No. 6 Royals’ 41-7 rout of host Indian Creek.
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“Most embarrassing game that I’ve coached that I can remember, ” said Indian Creek coach Mike Gillin, whose team fell to 1-2. “I know we’re better than that. We played them a one-touchdown game the first half. It wasn’t the same team that came out. They came out ready to play, and we didn’t. They wanted it more (Friday night). It’s really disappointing.”
It was quite a turnaround from last year when Indian Creek beat Eastern Hancock 40-10 in Jim O’Hara’s first year as Royals coach.
“They whipped us last year, so our kids responded, ” said O’Hara, who won his 100th career game as his team improved to 3-0. “I was proud of our kids, the way they handled the delay. We had some momentum, and the kids believed. They came out with confidence. That first (54-yard play) was big. We caught them on a blitz.”
After the second-half kickoff and one 9-yard run by the Royals’ Devin Denny, the referee halted play because of lightning.
The 54-yard touchdown pass followed. The Royals followed with another big score when Denny caught a screen pass from Lewis and took it 51 yards. Following a 2-yard touchdown run by Matt Bowman, Royals defensive lineman Dakota Myers returned a fumble 55 yards for a score.
“We kept pressure on them, ” O’Hara said. “My defensive coordinator Clayton Schultz called a great game. We kept mixing things up. On all three phases, I thought we played good. We’re fortunate. We know they’re a good program.”
The Royals took a 13-7 lead on Bowman’s 1-yard touchdown plunge on fourth down with 2.5 seconds left in the first half. The point after attempt failed. Bowman caught passes of 25 and 12 on the drive.
The Braves scored first on an opening drive of more than six minutes. Indian Creek starting quarterback Gynson Robley left the game during the opening drive but after getting seven stitches in his forehead, he returned to play in the Braves’ final possession in the half. On fourth down, backup QB Taylor Voris connected with Austin Coy for 5-yard scoring pass.
In Robley’s absence, Voris and Elijah Dunn shared the quarterback snaps. Dunn was hurt late in the game with an ankle injury. Robley struggled in his return and was 7 of 19 overall passing.
“We didn’t play block very well (on offense), ” Gillin said. “Until we get better on both sides of the ball, we’re going to struggle. We’re still a young, inexperienced team.”
With three minutes left in the first quarter, Bowman scored on a 11-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7-all.
Eastern Hancock will play at Milan on Friday night while Indian Creek will be at Clinton-Massie (Ohio).