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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Eagles manhandle Wildcats, 61-0

Saturday, October 22, 2011

South Putnam senior Rob Gibson rushed for 79 yards and had three touchdowns in the Eagles' win Friday. [Order this photo]
They're called Eagles, but on Friday night the South Putnam defenders were ball hawks.

South Putnam (8-2) forced 11 turnovers and held South Vermillion (0-10) to an astounding 6 yards of total offense en route to a 61-0 sectional-opening victory.

Coach Troy Burgess was simple in his praise of a defensive unit that held the Wildcats to 0.15 yards per play.

"They flew around. They hit. They created some turnovers and they took advantage of it when they did it," Burgess said.

South Putnam forced 10 fumbles, recovering eight of them. Brandon Smith led the way with two fumble recoveries. They also intercepted three passes, two by Justin Bumgardner and one by Klayton Vittetow.

"Defensively, Coach (Nathan) Aker has done a tremendous job for five years with me calling the defense. He did it again tonight. He had the defense ready to play," Burgess said.

The Eagles were ready to play in all facets of the game, reflecting the focus Burgess and staff had seen all week.

"Our kids did a great job this week. It was a combination of fall break and drawing an opponent that didn't have a great record," Burgess said. "It would've been real easy to lose focus but I thought we had a real good week of practice.

"It was rainy; it was nasty (in practice). We got outside and got done what we needed to get done."

The Eagle offense took care of business and put the game away early. Cody Heller opened the scoring when he caught a 37-yard touchdown from Seth Hammond with 8:48 remaining in the first quarter.

Zane Yon, who was 7-for-7 on extra points, put the Eagles up 7-0.

For the rest of the quarter, running back Rob Gibson continued his assault on the Eagle record book. The senior rushed for a 32-yard score, caught a 38-yard touchdown and scored from 25 scored from 25 yards out on another run.

These gave him the Eagle single-season record for rushing touchdowns (24) and tied him for the career lead (36) in the category.

The onslaught also made it 28-0 South Putnam after a quarter.

Gibson was done scoring for the night, but his teammates were not.

Ten seconds into the second quarter, Hammond found Heller again, this time for 52 yards and a 35-0 lead.

The senior signal caller was done passing for the night, finishing a perfect 3-for-3 for 127 yards and three touchdowns. Heller had 89 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Gibson had the other catch for 38 yards and a score.

Zach Smith finished the next Eagle possession with the longest run of the night, going 45 yards to paydirt.

Hammond closed out the first-half scoring with a 2-yard sneak to put the Eagles up 49-0.

"The offense is executing. We're not very complicated, but our kids do a good job of doing what we do," Burgess said. "It's a credit to our guys up front. Our young guys aren't young anymore and they played like it.

"Our focus was there and we executed."

The Eagles spent the second half getting young kids playing time and essentially trying not to show up the Wildcats. The turnover bug kept biting, though, and South Putnam took advantage twice.

Bumgardner returned a third-quarter interception 19 yards to make the score 55-0.

In the fourth, after the Eagles took over at the Wildcat 24, Wes Riner scored from 5 yards out to make it 61-0.

With 13 different players carrying the ball, Burgess liked the opportunity to get his reserves some sectional experience.

"It's a great opportunity for our young kids to get to play and play in a sectional game," Burgess said. "That just helps us build for the future getting to do that."

He also liked that his team kept its composure against a squad that vented its frustrations a few times in the lopsided loss.

"I thought our kids played hard, but like I told them after the game, I thought they played with a lot of class too," Burgess said.

Gibson led the Eagles with 79 yards rushing on seven carries. Zach Smith was close behind with five for 74 yards.

The Eagles will visit Park Tudor (3-7) in the sectional semifinal next week. The Panthers defeated Cascade 45-30 on Friday.

Day and time of the matchup have yet to be announced.

Not yet knowing his squad's opponent, Burgess simply said the Eagles have to continue to improve their game heading into the next round.

"We gotta continue to take care of ourselves," he said. "We did put the ball on the ground tonight. We've still got to continue to get better and take care of ourselves and we'll see who we play."

At this time of year, the name of the game is survive and advance. Burgess reminded his team of their goals after the game and of the step they've taken.

"Half the teams in the state of Indiana are going home after tonight," Burgess said. "We're one week closer to our goal. We want to be playing in November."

At South Putnam

South Vermillion 0 0 0 0 -- 0

South Putnam 28 21 6 6 -- 61

1st Quarter

SP: Heller 22-yd. pass from Hammond (Yon kick) 8:48

SP: Gibson 32-yd. run (Yon kick) 7:40

SP: Gibson 38-yd. pass from Hammond (Yon kick) 4:21

SP: Gibson 25-yd. run (Yon kick) 3:11

2nd Quarter

SP: Heller 22-yd. pass from Hammond (Yon kick) 11:50

SP: Z. Smith 45-yd. run (Yon kick) 7:33

SP: Hammond 2-yd. run (Yon kick) 5:08

3rd Quarter

SP: Bumgardner 19-yd. interception return (run failed) 8:27

4th Quarter

SP: Riner 5-yd. run (run failed) 5:12

First Downs311

Individual Stats

South Vermillion (0-10, 0-6 WIC):

Rushing (30 carries, -6 yards) -- Akers 13-16, Branz 3-7, Dunegan 1-0, Nickle 7-(-5), Gurney 2-(-11), Crouch 7-(-13)

Passing (2-11, 12 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT) -- Crouch 1-9-0-2, 6 yards, Branz 1-3-0-1, 6 yards

Receiving -- Branz 1-6, Crouch 1-6

South Putnam (8-2, 4-1 WCC):

Rushing (55 carries, 258 yards) -- Gibson 7-79, Z. Smith 5-74, Riner 11-46, Arnold 2-24, Waters 4-16, Heller 1-12, Bunten 2-4, Lorian 11-3, Hammond 1-2, Wiggs 2-2, Custis 1-0, Patrick 2-(-2), Taylor 7-(-2)

Passing (3-3, 127 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT) -- Hammond 3-3-3-0, 127 yards

Receiving -- Heller 2-89, Gibson 1-38

Next game: South Putnam will visit Park Tudor (3-7) next weekend. Game time and day will be announced.