PEMBERVILLE -The Oak Harbor and Eastwood football teams are nearly alike.
Both teams have successful veteran coaches, are defending league champions, love to run the ball and started the season 2-0. And last night's contest was statistically almost even.
But two big plays set the Eagles apart as they emerged with a 21-0 blanking of the visiting Rockets.
Eastwood kept its undefeated record intact on the strength of a huge touchdown pass as the first half ended and a 22-yard interception return for another score early in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles finished with one more rushing yard, 88-87, and just 25 more overall. Oak Harbor led in time of possession and had three more first downs.
But Eastwood struck with just three seconds left in the first half to make it 14-0. On fourth and five at the OH 18, junior Mark Schult broke open in the middle of the Rocket defense and quarterback Eric Rutherford hit him with an 18-yard strike.
Junior linebacker Ashton Brown then put it out of reach when he returned an interception for a TD with 4:49 left.
"Brown's big interception finished it off," coach Jerry Rutherford said.
In the briskly played contest dominated by defense, each team was able to convert just once on third down.
"We were in a hole all night," Oak Harbor coach Gary Quisno said. "We just couldn't make plays. We've been inconsistent and that killed us tonight. We'd have one good play and one bad play. But our defense looked better in the second half."
Eastwood senior Jeremy Foster led all rushers with 71 yards on 24 carries.
"I enjoy being the person everyone looks to," Foster said. "I like to give speeches before games and at halftime. I like to get everyone jacked up."
A 34-yard punt return by Matt Schlumbohm set the Eagles up at the Rocket 25 and led to their first touchdown. Foster scored on a one-yard run to make it 7-0 just 7:14 into the contest. Foster carried seven times on the drive.
"I'm sure we were conservative. But let's face it - we're going to run the football," coach Rutherford said. "We will run Jeremy. That is our focus."
Oak Harbor also pounded away on the ground as Tom Baker rushed for 51 yards and David Ulery had 40. But the Rockets twice turned the ball over on downs.
"I have to congratulate Eastwood we knew they were a good team," Quisno said.
"They attack you and come after you."
Eastwood's second score capped a seven play, 67-yard drive and made it 14-0 with no time left on the clock.
The other key play came on a 26-yard pass from Rutherford to Michael Leady with 1:06 left in the second quarter.
"They were expecting me to get the ball," Foster said "The whole team was so pumped up after that."
Eastwood linebacker Nick Schling was part of a defense that came up with two picks.
"It was a great team effort by the defense," Schling said.
"All 11 were doing their jobs. We stepped up tonight and shut out a really good team."
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