Eastern Hancock earns 5th straight victory

GREENSBURG — The Class 2A Eastern Hancock and Class A North Decatur match up Friday was mostly a defensive battle — until the end.

The Royals used some big plays in the fourth quarter to stretch their lead to 38-21 on their way to their fifth straight victory.

Probably the biggest of the big plays was Jacob Miller’s fumble recovery touchdown. The Chargers had the ball at their 35-yard line on third-and-10. The defensive line put some heavy pressure on quarterback Evan Smith and as Smith tumbled to the ground with a few Royals on top of him, the ball got loose and Miller picked it up.

“Most importantly, the guys on the defense turned and blocked to allow him to get in there,” Eastern Hancock head coach Jim O’Hara said. “Then he made a heck of a move to get in the end zone.”

The play was a turning point for the Royals. The Chargers had the ball again with six minutes left but the Royal defense got another turnover. Caleb Giddings zipped in between two Chargers to grab an interception and stop any comeback charge that could have happened.

“Any time you get turnovers, it’s going to help you win the game,” O’Hara said. “Those were two great plays by Caleb Giddings and Jacob Miller.”

The Royal offense took some time to get their rhythm. And the Chargers, for that matter. It wasn’t until the fourth drive that Eastern Hancock found some breathing room at the end of the first quarter. Payton Wilkinson found his first of two passing touchdowns of the night to put the Royals on the board.

A field goal and a Victor Olivo touchdown pass would be the only other breakthroughs for Eastern Hancock before the fourth quarter. North Decatur had some pretty impressive running drives but was still trailing 10-6 at half.

“North Decatur did a great job,” O’Hara said. “They have over 25 formations and they make it difficult for you to defend.”

They ran another in the third quarter just before the Royal passing game took an interesting turn.

Lewis had two bombs to Wilkinson and A.J. Muegge for an 83-yard and a 55-yard passing touchdown.

One of the game changers for Lewis was the amount of time his offensive line gave him in the pocket.

“Our strength of our team is really our offensive and defensive line,” O’Hara said. “Our line is the way we’re going to win.”

The defensive line had five sacks on the night for a loss of 27 yards.

The Royals move to 5-1 and will face Class A Monroe Central at home next Friday.

“We don’t focus on the big picture, we just look for one more and that’s our theme this year – one more,” O’Hara said. “And we’re always playing with Riley [Settergren], so we feel his presence.”