GREENCASTLE -- The South Putnam Eagles football team hosted West Central Conference foe, the Speedway Sparkplugs, while celebrating Homecoming Friday night.
Both teams entered the game with only one WCC loss for the season, so there was much riding on the game in the Conference standings.
South Putnam capped-off its Homecoming festivities and thrilled their loyal fans by defeating Speedway in football for the first time in their school's history, 27-20, improving the Eagles' season record to 6-1 and 3-1 in the WCC.
After Speedway received the opening kickoff, the ball changed hands three times before South Putnam's defense made the first big play of the game.
The Eagles forced the first Sparkplug turnover of the game, an interception by John Spencer, giving South Putnam excellent field position at the Speedway 46-yard line.
South Putnam was then able to move the ball down the field with a solid drive at the end of the first quarter, with rushes by Brayden Freeman, Drew Cash, Michael Nichols, and Grant Zimmerman.
Cash ended the drive by scoring the first of his three touchdowns of the night, a 13-yard sprint, with 0:00 showing on the clock.
After Jake Gould kick the first of his three PATs for the night, the Eagles led 7-0 going into the second quarter.
Neither team was able to score in the second quarter, but things would change drastically after Megan Klotz was crowned Homecoming Queen at halftime.
South Putnam was able to score twice in the third quarter, the first time on a 91-yard run by Rob Gibson with 8:41 left in the period.
The Eagle defense stopped the Sparkplugs on their next drive as Spencer grabbed his second interception of the night.
South Putnam then took 6:30 off of the clock with a 13-play, 72-yard, scoring drive with runs by Zimmerman, Cash, and Gibson. Cash ended the drive with a one-yard touchdown run with 0:32.2 showing on the clock, giving the Eagles a 21-0 lead going into the final period.
Speedway, however, was not yet ready to surrender to South Putnam.
The Sparkplugs scored their first points of the night with 9:51 left in the game.
On the next play from scrimmage, Cash scored his third touchdown of the night, a 57-yard burst, giving the Eagles their final points of the game with 9:35 showing on the clock, and a seemingly comfortable 27-7 lead over the Sparkplugs.
On their next series, Speedway scored again, with 8:33 left in the game, closing the South Putnam lead to 27-13.
The Eagles were forced to punt on their next series, and the Sparkplugs were driving down the field again, when South Putnam's Cameron Chestnut pulled the football out of a Speedway receiver's hand, forcing and recovering a fumble, ending another Sparkplug opportunity.
South Putnam was able to take another 3:18 off of the clock through great clock management in a sustained drive, but punted the ball to the Speedway nine-yard line.
The Sparkplugs were able score the final points of the game with 0:47.6 left on the clock, resulting in the final score of 27-20.
South Putnam earned the win with big plays, both on offense and defense, running the ball for 350 yards, while limiting Speedway to 137 yards on the ground.
The Eagles generated 352 in total offense, while their defense limited the Sparkplugs to 337 yards, a misleading figure, as South Putnam was in a prevent pass defense in the fourth quarter, forcing Speedway to complete short passes and use up the clock.
"We did what we had to do tonight to win this game, "South Putnam head coach Troy Burgess said after the game.
"We felt like coming into the game that we matched up well with them up front. We put a lot of pressure on our big guys and they continue to do their job and we did a good job of getting the ball to our guys tonight."
"We had big plays defensively, two interceptions by John Spencer, a big fumble recovery when Cameron Chestnut just took the ball away from their receiver, and a big quarterback sack by Matt Huck."
"Adam Masters had a big batted pass in the fourth quarter, and our two linebackers, Brayden Freeman and Derek Dean, both played big for us tonight."
"This win was huge for these kids, and I'm really happy for them," Burgess concluded.
Gibson gained 136 yards on nine carries to lead the Eagles in rushing. Cash followed with 129 yards on 23 carries, Freeman had 49 on seven rushes, Zimmerman had 36 yards on 13 carries, and Nichols had one yard on one carry.
Getting big plays defensively for South Putnam, Matt Huck had a quarterback sack. John Spencer had two interceptions, and Cameron Chestnut forced and recovered a Speedway fumble for the Eagles.
The Eagles (6-1, 3-1 WCC) travel to Monrovia Friday night to play the Bulldogs in another tough West Central Conference game. The game begins at 7 p.m.
At South Putnam
South Putnam 7 0 14 6 -- 27
Speedway 0 0 0 20 -- 20
South Putnam -- Cash 13 run (Gould kick) 0:00
South Putnam -- Gibson 91 run (Gould kick) 8:41
South Putnam -- Cash 1 run (Gould kick) 0:32.2
Speedway -- Dunn 10 run (Walton kick) 9:51
South Putnam -- Cash 57 run (Kick failed) 9:35
Speedway -- Dunn 4 run (Kick failed) 8:33
Speedway -- West to Shambaugh 15 pass (Walton kick) 0:47.6
First Downs -- South Putnam (12), Speedway (16)
Punts-Yards -- South Putnam (4-143), Speedway (2-66)
Fumbles-Lost -- South Putnam (4-2), Speedway (1-1)
Penalties-Yards -- South Putnam (6-50), Speedway (11-113)
South Putnam (6-1, 3-1 WCC):
Rushing -- (53 carries, 350 yards) -- Zimmerman 13-35, Cash 23-129, Freeman 7-49, Nichols 1-1, Gibson 9-136.
Passing -- (1-4-0-0, 2 yards) -- Zimmerman 1-4, 2 yds, 0 TD, 0 INT.
Receiving -- (1 catch, 2 yards) -- Cash 1-2.
Total Offense -- (57 plays, 352 yards)
Speedway (4-3, 3-2 WCC):
Rushing -- (25 carries, 137 yards) -- West 4-21, Hubbard 14-103, Dunn 6-14, Bouwman 1-(-1).
Passing -- (19-36-1-2, 200 yards) -- West 19-36, 200 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT.
Receiving -- (19 catches, 200 yards) -- Hubbard 2-0, Bouwman 4-60, Shambaugh 10-122, Shaw 3-18.
Total Offense -- (61 plays, 337 yards)
Next game -- The Eagles (6-1, 3-1 WCC) travel to Monrovia Friday night to play the Bulldogs in another tough West Central Conference game. The game begins at 7 p.m.