CHURUBUSCO — “This is what you have to do in the big games,” Kyle Mathewson said.
The words that said it all in Churubusco Friday night as the Eagles handed an undefeated Hagerstown team its first loss in the class A regional championship. The crown won ’Busco a match-up with the No. 1 team in class A football next week at Lafayette Central Catholic.
Exactly what the Eagles did was repeat the steps of the 2007 when current Churubusco seniors, as freshmen also won a regional title.
Whether it was Mathewson, Kyle Monk, Jordan Turner or Jeremy Forker, those seniors helped ’Busco pull away early against the Tigers putting up 24 first quarter points and cruising to a regional crown 58-14.
“We made big plays tonight,” lineman Jordan Turner said. “We knew they were good. You have to be to make it this far. We knew we’re good too and we just had to battle.”
A scoreless first quarter with 7:41 remaining quickly turned bad for the Tigers.
Following a 35-yard field goal miss from Hagerstown, Churubusco went from a tie ball game to a commanding lead in four plays.
The Eagles first possession of the game was their longest of the first half using 10 plays to drive 80 yards and break the scoreboard in with a 33-yard touchdown stamper down the sidelines from senior fullback Kyle Mathewson.
“We all came out with mental toughness,” Mathewson noted. “We knew this was going to be a hard fought battle. The offensive line did great and we we’re clicking on all cylinders.”
The score was just the start of a big night for both Mathewson and the Eagles. Three more gains over 35 yards each had the Eagles all-time leading rusher eclipsing the 250 yardage marker on the ground with 262 yards and three more touchdowns on 13 carries.
The Churubusco defense took a small 6-0 lead and made it a large margin forcing three turnovers in the first quarter.
The first came on Hagerstown’s ensue drive when Monk picked up a fumbled pitch to Tigers back Matt Thompson.
Eight seconds later, Monk air mailed a 47-yard touchdown pass to fellow senior Jeremy Forker.
Tigers QB Alex Houck made a costly turnover on the first play back on offense for Hagerstown. Cornerback Alex Zolman intercepted a long pass setting up another one-play scoring drive for the Eagles when Mathewson ran in from 38 yards out.
The 2:57 nightmare for the Tigers ended with 30.8 seconds left in the first quarter and Churubusco up 24-0. The final icing on the cake came from Turner who scooped up Thompson’s second fumble of the night for a 40-yard touchdown return.
“I had a lot of help from Josh LeFever,” Turner said of his touchdown. “He stripped the ball. I just saw it, scooped and scored.”
The fast start came one week after ’Busco needed 27 unanswered points in the sectional championship to rally against South Adams.
“I don’t remember some of the stuff that happened,” Churubusco head coach Lee Etzler admitted. “It was nice when you have them on the run. We have a lot of confidence, we’re playing fast and their kind of shell shocked so we wanted to jump on things at that point in time.”
Churubusco had one of its highest total yardage games of the season with 492 rushing yards combined with 135 passing yards.
Two other rushers joined Mathewson with more than 50 yards on the ground. Josh LeFever followed up a 120-yard game last week with 83 more while Jes Percey added 57.
The Eagles defense forced four turnovers in all with two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
“They were playing fast,” Etzler said of his defense. “We were getting to the football. I think the quarterback was surprised a few times how fast we were getting their and that was probably the result of the ball being on the ground a time or two.”