The intensity of the pregame warm-ups soon dissipated amongst the Cloverdale sideline as South Putnam stuffed the opening Clover drive, took their own opening drive in for six and routed the hosts 35-0.
Cloverdale was only able to muster a yard on their opening possession as the Eagles used an aggressive defensive formation to combat the running game of the Clovers. South Putnam needed just seven plays to score on fullback Brayden Freeman's two yard plunge. The extra point went wide, leaving the score at 6-0.
The kickoff following Freeman's score went out of bounds, setting up the Clovers with great field position on their own 35-yard line. They began to steadily work the ball downfield with the combination of running back Donavan Scisney and quarterback Jordan Brinkman doing most of the legwork.
A converted fourth down brought the Clovers into South Putnam territory, but the drive stalled out on the next set of downs following a short gain, a small loss and two incomplete passes.
It was the closest that Cloverdale came to scoring against the Eagles.
South Putnam's next possession mirrored the first one. A steady ground game ate up chunks of yards as the Eagles moved into the Cloverdale half of the field. The drive looked like it might stall as soon as midfield was crossed, however, following a holding penalty and a sack of quarterback Grant Zimmerman.
As the sack was the last play of the first quarter, South Putnam got a little bit of time to discuss their next play. Instead of running out of the wishbone, the Eagles reverted to a shotgun formation and Zimmerman fired a pass to tailback Zach Smith for 20 yards and a first down.
On the next play, Rob Gibson went off right tackle for a 33-yard scoring plunge, with Smith leading the way and applying the final block needed for Gibson to hit paydirt. Gibson would score the two-point conversion and take the score to 14-0 in favor of the Eagles.
Following a three and out for the Clovers, the Eagles took over at their own 28-yard line and went on a 11-play, 72-yard drive that culminated in Gibson running the same play he scored on earlier, this time from five yards out.
The Clovers began to look for a big play, but instead nearly gifted South Putnam with another score. After a quarterback sneak netted Cloverdale a first down, Brinkman was pressured into throwing a loose pass upfield which was picked off by Smith.
Smith's return was stopped a single yard short of the goal line. He would receive the next two carries, punching the second one in for the final score of the half and moved the Eagle advantage to 28-0.
Little changed after halftime. Though the Eagles went three and out to start the third quarter, Cloverdale could not capitalize on the good field position and lost the ball on downs when Brinkman was stopped short of a first down on a fourth and eight scramble.
Smith would add the final tally of the game on the night's biggest gain two plays later. After Gibson was stuffed on first down, Smith took a toss sweep to the left side, found a seam and cut back against the Cloverdale defense, storming back towards the right side on a 66-yard run to make the score 35-0.
Neither side was able to make much headway after the long run with both sides having two possessions before time expired.
Afterwards, Cloverdale head coach Kyle Winkler seemed at a loss for his squad's performance.
"We had miscues. Obviously the injuries that we have are having a bigger impact on our team than we thought. You know, you lose one guy on the line, a running back who's not 100 percent, you got some guys who are dinged up and once they got ahead we put our head down and felt sorry for ourselves. I don't understand it. We got to have some pride in ourselves," Winkler said.
"I'm just dumbfounded that after all we did was talk about playing South Put, we're gonna take it to the Eagles, we're gonna hit 'em, gonna hit 'em, gonna hit 'em and then we come out and play flat footed and watch the ball go right at us."
The game itself was pretty simple.
"Basically, it comes down to South Putnam ran straight ahead and we got run over up front. I'll say, hey, we gave them a touchdown there with the interception. They ran it back to the 1. I mean, we're down 21-0 at the time and we're going out to try and win the game," Winkler said.
South Putnam head coach Troy Burgess was also a bit surprised by the outcome.
"No. I did not think that at all," Burgess said when asked if he thought the Eagles would come out and control the game as they did. "I thought our kids really stepped up from last week. I think they kinda took that to heart, getting beat last week and I was very proud of the way our kids came out and got things rolling early. Sometimes, that kind of happens and it just snowballs."
"It's just the second week of the system. The guys up front are the difference and last week we did some things well, we just got a little sloppy in the second half. The difference tonight was we won the battle up front. They did a good job of opening holes up front and when there were linebackers, the other two backs blocked well, especially when they didn't have the ball," Burgess said in talking about the highly successful wishbone offense.
Greencastle is the next test for Cloverdale. Between now and then, Winkler will be scouring his team for players who are ready to step up.
"We gotta find guys that want to block to the whistle. On defense, we've got to find guys who want to play their assignment and go to the football. On film, Greencastle is not overly huge and that's one thing that beats us sometimes when another team is overly huge."
"But they've got a lot of team speed. They're playing with confidence. The play with pride. They're going to look at us and say, 'We can beat them.,'" Winkler added.
He also mentioned a player that the Clovers need to emulate more.
"Matt Hall plays with a lot of pride. We need other guys to step and play like that."
For South Putnam, Triton Central looms in the distance for Homecoming.
"I saw the film of them play against Greencastle and Greencastle played with them for a half. The thing I saw was that they're big, they're physical. Both teams are going to line up and try to run the football. We've got another week of practice. We've got to continue getting better at blocking, tackling and we'll see what happens," Burgess said.
South Putnam 6 22 7 0 -- 35
Cloverdale 0 0 0 0 -- 0
8:02 -- Freeman 2 yard run (XP no good) 6-0
11:34 -- Gibson 34 yard run (Gibson 2-point conversion) 14-0
4:47 -- Gibson 5 yard run (J. Gould kick) 21-0
2:18 -- Z. Smith 1 yard run (J. Gould kick) 28-0
4:25 -- Z. Smith 66 yard run (J. Gould kick) 35-0
Rushing -- South Putnam 47-290; Gibson 17-129, 2 TD; Z. Smith 11-114, 2 TD; Freeman 2-6, TD; Zimmerman 4- -8; Custis 1-1; B. Smith 6-17; Wilson 3-19; Heller 1-11, Waters 1-2; Arnold 1- -1; Cloverdale 36-96; Scisney 22-76; Brinkman 11-19; Atwood 2- -2; Fidler 1-3
Passing -- Zimmerman (SP) 1-1-20; Brinkman (CL) 4-13-33, INT
Receiving -- Z. Smith (SP) 1-20; Atwood (CL) 2-13; Lockwood 1-13; Burdette 1-7
Turnovers -- South Putnam 0; Cloverdale 1 (Z. Smith INT)