CLOVERDALE -- Cloverdale head coach Kyle Winkler said last week he wanted his Clovers to hit and keep hitting the South Putnam Eagles when they came to town Friday for a West Central Conference match up.
South Putnam won the match up, 21-19,but Winker got his wish -- at least for the first quarter.
The first quarter belonged to the Clovers, as their defense forced the Eagles to go four and out on their first possession. Allowing their offense to take over and march the ball up field for a 68-yard drive that was capped by a 32-yard touchdown run by Dillion Grey with 5:26 remaining in the first quarter. The Clovers tried to make it an 8-0 game, but had their two-point conversion stuffed behind the line of scrimmage.
"I told the kids that I wanted to out hit them in the first quarter and set the tone for the rest of the night and that's what they did," CHS Coach Kyle Winkler said.
Cloverdale controlled most of the second quarter -- all but the last four minutes.
South Putnam was threatening to score early in the second quarter when they were on the two-yard line, but Cloverdale's defense stripped the ball out of Grant Zimmerman's hands in the end zone, forcing the touchback.
The two teams battled back and forth, with neither of them being able to get past the others defense. Then it happened.
With just four minutes to go in the half, the Eagles were on their own one-yard line when Zimmerman connected with Rob Gibson for an 89-yard pass, setting up Drew Cash for an 11-yard touchdown run. After Mark Gould's kick, the Eagles led 7-6.
The Eagles defense stepped it up a notch after Cash's touchdown, holding the Clovers offense to only 21-yards on their next series, giving their offense one more chance to score before the half.
And that's what they did.
The Eagles started on their own 32-yard line and four plays later they were in the end zone. After Cash moved the ball five yards, Zimmerman connected three straight times to three different receivers. The first time he hit Cameron Chestnut for an 18-yard pass; the second time was with Gibson for 12-yards; and the third time was with Dean Varvel for a 33-yard touchdown with 18 seconds to go in the half.
"We made some things happen in the first half we needed to," SPHS Coach Troy Burgess said. "Rob caught a big pass and Grant threw some good balls, especially with the weather."
The Eagles carried their momentum at the start of the third quarter when Gibson ran back a 75-yard kickoff return, to take a 21-6 lead, but that was soon changed.
On their first series of the half, Cloverdale put the ball in the end zone in three tries, thanks to Grey. He started the series with a 33-yard run and ended it with a 15-yard touchdown run, cutting the Eagles lead from 15 to eight.
The game was a stand still until the last six minutes of the fourth, when Cloverdale turned up the intensity when Jeff Couse picked off Zimmerman's pass to Chestnut at the Clovers five-yard line.
Now with the ball sitting on their own five-yard line and trailing 21-13, the Clovers needed a big play. The got one when Donavan Scisney took the ball and ran it 71 yards, before getting knocked out of bounds at the Eagles 24-yard line. Seven plays later, Jordan Hayden punched it into the end zone on a quarterback keeper.
Cloverdale attempted to tie the game by going for the two-point conversion, but failed in the attempt.
The Clovers got another chance to upset the Eagles, when their defense forced South Putnam to punt the ball to the Clovers six-yard line. But the Clovers fumbled three plays later allowing the Eagles to take the win.
"We had them, we had them tonight," Winkler said. "We gave them that last score. It was 14-6 at the start of the third quarter, then 10 seconds later it was 21-6.
"Man, I just can't stand giving away free points," Winkler added.
Even though his team came out on top, Burgess knows his team has some things to work on.
"It's a win, yea it's a win," Burgess said. "The kids made some plays when they had too and we did just enough to get the win.
"We made some mistakes and have some things to work on, but it's a win and were happy with that," Burgess added. "I have to give a lot of respect to Cloverdale's players. They played their tails off tonight."
Cloverdale travels to Greencastle Friday for another WCC match up starting at 7 p.m., while the Eagles host Speedway at 7 p.m.
Cloverdale 6 0 7 6 -- 19
South Putnam 0 14 7 0 -- 21
Rushing -- Grey 19-157-2, Scisney 12-164, Hayden 5-4-1, Couse 1-3
Receiving -- Lockwood 1-3
Passing -- Hayden 1-6-3
Rushing -- Cash 25-18-1, Zimmerman 15-33, Gibson 3-97-1, Freeman 3-7
Receiving -- 2-101, Varvel 1-32-1, Chestnut 2-24
Passing -- Zimmerman 5-8-157-1-1
Next game -- Cloverdale travels to Greencastle Friday for another WCC match up starting at 7 p.m. while the Eagles host Speedway at 7 p.m.