Going against a highly-touted Rockville team that came into the night 2-0, South Putnam's football team knew Friday night's task would not be easy.
However, the Eagles stood toe-to-toe with the Rox all night, making an impressive second-half comeback, before falling to the Rox, 34-28.
If not for a rough second quarter that saw the Rox put up 22 straight points, the night was the Eagles'. After the game, South Putnam coach Troy Burgess reflected on the first-half mistakes that put the Eagles in hole.
"We got behind early. We kind of dug ourselves a hole there," Burgess said. "In the first half, I felt like we spotted the 21 with some silly mistakes. To their credit, they're a good football team, they took advantage of it."
The first of those mistakes came late in the first quarter when a South Putnam fumble on its own 15 yard line gave the Rox great field position. Three plays later, quarterback Matt King found Zach Clapp for his first touchdown of the night. A failed extra point made it 6-0 Rox.
The Eagles would depend heavily on Parrish on the night, as he rushed 27 times for 169 yards.
After the touchdown, the Eagles had a 7-6 lead. Unfortunately, it would be their last of the night.
Rockville dominated the action for the remainder of the second. They did so on the ground, rushing 20 times for 111 yards. King would find Aaron bridge for a 5-yard touchdown. King rushed for another, and Clapp made a one-yard plunge to make the score 28-7 just before the first-half gun.
The Eagles could have rolled over. They were facing a ranked team, and they were down big. Instead, they made the second half theirs.
"I think the biggest positive is it would have been really easy to just roll over and quit at halftime, and we didn't," Burgess said. "We came right back out, we took that opening drive down, we scored. We had them in a couple of situations there."
In the opening drive, The Eagles began mixing in the pass a bit more. Although quarterback Jon Davidson was just 1-for-2 on the drive, the completion was the biggest of the game, as he hit Michael Sebanc over the middle. Sebanc did the rest, taking the pass 41 yards for the score.
"The fact that we didn't quit -- that's a tribute to the seniors," Burgess said. "We have good senior leadership, and they came out in the second half. We willed our way to try and make it a ballgame, anyway."
Rockville had an answer of its own, though. The Rox gave the Eagles another heavy dose of Clapp running. The senior rushed six times for 46 yards on the ensuing drive, including the last two, to make the score 34-14 Rox.
The Eagles continued to keep their heads in the game, though. The next drive saw several more Parrish runs and a 27-yard throw from Hunter Edwards to Adam Hammond to give the Eagles first-and-goal at the three. Two plays later, Davidson found Hammond in the end zone. The extra point made it 34-21, Rox.
The two squads traded several fruitless possessions before the Eagles mounted a seven-play, 56-yard drive late in the fourth. Davidson scampered four yards for his second touchdown of the night. The Jake Gould extra point made it 34-28 with 1:32 remaining.
However, it was too little, too late for the Eagles. The onside kick attempt failed, and the Rox made a first down, then only had to take a knee to seal the victory.
Burgess said his team cost itself the game, a fact that pains him, but in which he also finds hope.
"We've got to take care of ourselves," he said. "If it was the fact that we were playing perfect football and getting beat, I think I would worry more. But the fact is we're not playing perfect and we're still in the ballgame.
"We've got to make sure we're doing the little things, and it's silly things," Burgess continued. "It's hanging on to the ball. It's knowing the snap count. It's just the little things, but those are all things we can fix."
The Eagles (0-3, 0-0 WCC) open their Putnam County and WCC season at 7 p.m. next Friday when they travel to North Putnam.
At South Putnam
Rockville 6 22 6 0 -- 34
South Putnam 0 7 14 7 -- 28
R -- Clapp 8 run (Kick failed) 2:40
SP -- Parrish 14 run (Gould kick good) 10-:06
R -- King to Bridge 5 pass (King pass good) 6:35
R -- King 17 run (Dotson kick good) 2:30
R -- Clapp 1 run (Dotson kick good) 0:01
SP -- Davidson to Sebanc 41 pass (Gould kick good) 10:11
R -- Clapp 2 run (Kick failed) 6:15
SP -- Davidson to Carr 3 pass (Gould kick good) 2:02
SP -- Parrish 4 run (Gould kick good) 1:52
First downs -- Rockville 17, South Putnam 12
Fumbles-lost -- Rockville 0-0, South Putnam 2-2
Penalties-yards -- Rockville 2-16, South Putnam 8-51
Rockville (3-0, 2-0 WRC):
Rushing (45 carries, 237 yards) -- McMullen 2-6, Clapp 31-154, King 11-77.
Passing (10-17-2-0, 64 yards) -- King 10-17-2-0, 64 yards
Receiving (10 catches, 64 yards) -- No. 1 7-43, Clapp 1-8, Bridge 1-5, Clevenger 1-7
South Putnam (0-3, 0-0 WCC):
Rushing (36 carries, 195 yards) -- Parrish 27-169, Davidson 2-7, Knight 1-1, Cash 4-9, Bunten 1-0
Passing (5-11-2-0 107 yards) -- Davidson 4-7-2-0 80 yards, 1-3-0-0 27 yards
Receiving (5 receptions, 107 yards) -- Sebanc 3-77, Hammond 2-30