FOUNTAIN CITY — The Eastern Hancock Royals were able to overcome the weather and advance to the Class A Sectional 37 finals Friday night after defeating the Northeastern Knights 34-6.
The Royals offense jumped to an early lead under sophomore quarterback Logan Splater, who led Eastern Hancock into the end zone on each of its first two possessions.
“I think any time you’re in a rain game like this getting a quick start on offense before the field gets too destroyed is huge,” said Royals coach Pat Echeverria. “That was huge, plus the confidence factor of getting out on top.”
The Royals would add another touchdown on a five-yard touchdown run by junior Spencer Gilbert late in the first quarter which moved the score to 21-0 following the PAT.
“We have never been down three touchdowns all year,” said Northeastern coach Mike Roeder. “I think it was a little bit of a shock to them (the players), but we challenged them and they got it back together in the second quarter.”
Northeastern did manage to cut the deficit when sophomore Kelsey Kirkland reached the end zone on a three-yard touchdown run.
The momentum would not stay on the Knights side of the field for long.
After a failed onside kick gave the Royals the ball in Knight territory sophomore Cooper Henderson scored on a one-yard run, moving the score to 27-6.
The rain again began to fall shortly after the teams returned to the field to start the second half, limiting offensive production on both sides of the ball.
“It was awful,” Echeverria said. “It was one of those things where you tell your kids just protect the football at all costs.”
“It’s tough, but both teams were playing in it,” Roeder said. “I’m not going to use that as an excuse.”
Despite the swampy conditions Splater would break free for a 57-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter which pushed the score to 34-6, which is where it would remain until the clock expired.
Eastern Hancock will advance to face Indianapolis Scecina in the sectional championship next Friday.
“Obviously Scecina is a very good football team, they went to the state championship and finished runner-up,” Echeverria said. “We’re excited about the opportunity to play for a sectional championship and like we tell our kids if you’re going to get where you want to get you have to beat the best.”