PONETO –– The Churubusco Eagles took the long trip to Southern Wells Friday night to take on the Raiders in a sectional semifinal match-up.
Neither team would go down without a fight, but with 24.6 seconds left in the game, it was Churubusco that walked off the field with a 12-6 victory.
“We hung in there — we knew it was going to be a 48-minute football game — and they hung in there,” ’Busco head coach Lee Etzler said.
’Busco drew first blood, picking up a touchdown with 1:58 left in the first quarter.
Two carries by Josh LeFever and two by Kyle Matthewson brought the Eagles into the end zone and put ‘Busco up 6-0.
Matthewson and LeFever picked up 169 of ’Busco’s 217 total yards.
The Eagles held on to their 6-0 lead until midway through the third quarter, when Southern Wells broke through the Eagle defensive line for a 17-yard touchdown run.
“The defense played very well, we understood they’re a good offensive team,” Etzler said.
With 3:08 left to go in the tie ball game and the Raiders with the ball on their own 40-yard line, Eagle linebacker Jason Nicodemus kicked it into high gear, getting three quick tackles, handing the Raiders a fourth-and-six.
“Our kids played hard, we knew they were going to drive the football on us and we knew they were going to hit hard,” Etzler said.
It was Mathewson and LeFever who stepped up on offense to lead the Eagles to the final touchdown of the night.
After a tipped, and nearly intercepted pass, by Kyle Monk, LeFever leaped over his defender to snatch the ball from his hands, gaining the Eagles 34 yards and moving them closer to the end zone.
Monk was four for nine in passing for 56 yards.
Matthewson took over from there. With with two powerful runs, Mathewson carried the Eagles into the end zone and the next week’s sectional championship game.
“It’s nice that we were in this situation and we didn’t throw in the towel,” Etzler said.
Following the score, the Eagles stopped any Raider hopes of last-minute heroics when Monk stripped the ball from the Southern Wells ballcarrier on the first play from scrimmage and regained possession for ’Busco, sealing the win.
Southern Wells had three fumbles on the night, while the Eagles were able to protect the ball with none.
“Our kids played hard and we were able to punch it in,” Etzler said.
The Eagles travel to South Adams next Friday night for a shot at a sectional title.