South Putnam dominated every aspect of the game Saturday through three and a half quarters, but those final three minutes will haunt them the rest of the season.
The Eagles let a week two win slip through their fingers, allowing Tri-West to score 14 unanswered points in the final three minutes and gain the victory 14-13.
With 17 seconds, down 13-7 and facing a third and 14, Bruins' quarterback Jake Hendershot dropped back and found Austin Lazaro in the back of the end zone wide open for a 34-yard touchdown strike. The Eagles' secondary lost track of the receiver, which gave him just enough room to break free.
The outcome of the game was still to be decided on the extra point. However, kicker Thomas Tintera was able to deliver the kill shot by splitting the uprights and giving Tri-West a 14-13 advantage with eight seconds left.
The Bruins first touchdown was a 36-yard pass from Hendershot to Nick Phelps. When asked about the reason his team, which was able to hold the Bruins scoreless until its last two possessions, allowed two touchdown in as many possessions, South Putnam head coach Troy Burgess said it came down to execution and losing track of players' assignments.
"(It was) missed assignments," Burgess responded. "The first touchdown was five-yard hitch route. We had the guy (Nick Phelps), had him wrapped up and we don't tackle him. That should have been a five-yard tackle him and he's down and we go to the next play. We don't wrap, we don't tackle and missed assignments.
"The second one as the same thing -- it's just missed assignments. They have to take a shot. Nobody gets behind you, nobody gets deeper. Coach Aker did a very good job all day long putting our defense in a position to make plays and you have to make those plays. We had two blown assignments and it just happens to cost us at a bad time."
Burgess said it all boils down to practice habits. He said the coaching staff preaches that players execute their assignments, tackling. Burgess said the team didn't have a good week of practice leading into Saturday.
The first half went according to the Eagles' plan. They kept the Bruins out of the endzone and we able to put a touchdown of their own on the board in the second quarter.
At the 2:13 mark, the Eagles faced a fourth and goal from the two-yard line. With a tough offensive line everyone in attendance expected South Putnam to line up and run it up the middle.
Instead, quarterback Sawyer Arnold dropped back and found Justin Bumgardner for the touchdown to give the Eagles' a 7-0 edge going into halftime.
After the break, South Putnam wasted little time adding to its lead.
On its first possession of the second half, South Putnam drove 66 yards, which was capped by a Lucas Lorian four-yard touchdown plunge. The kick went wide right. That single point proved to be a pivotal one.
"You hold that team to 14 points, you should win the game," Burgess commented. "Offensively we were able to move the ball early and again it just comes down to assignments. Late in the game -- maybe it's play calling, maybe blown assignments, but we didn't execute."
While the defense will likely take the brunt of the blame for Saturday's loss, Burgess was quick to note that there was enough blame to go around. He said the team is solid up front, but they needs other players to step up and make plays behind the lines.
"We've said all along we feel like we're pretty good up front and I say that after today," Burgess said. "I thought up front our guys did a great job. We've got to do some things behind those guys whether it be offensively or defensively, we have to do some things behind those big guys up front. We didn't get it done today."
Up next for the Eagles will be Rockville on the road Friday. Burgess said this week would show exactly what his team is made of.
"We're going to find out what we're made of," he said. "Do we put our tail between our legs or do we come out, get ready and do what we're supposed to do and take it Rockville next Friday nigh?
"We're going to another tough place to play. Rockville's a hard place to play and it's never easy to go over there and win."
South Putnam travels to Rockville Friday at 7 p.m.
At Lucas Oil
Tri-West 0 0 0 14 -- 14
South Putnam 0 7 6 0 -- 13
SP -- Bumgardner five-yard pass from Arnold, Yon kick 2:13
SP -- Lorian four-yard run, kick failed 6:28
TW -- Phelps 36-yard pass from Hendershot, Tintera kick 2:22
TW -- Lazaro 34-yard pass from Hendershot, Tintera kick :08
Rushing -- Lorian 33-153 TD, Arnold 14-49, Riner 2-5, Smith 2-1
Passing -- Arnold 6-13 76 yards TD, 3 INT.
Receiving -- Bumgardner 5-63 TD, Snow 1-10, Franklin 1-3
Rushing -- Hendershot 13-33, Cook 7-27, Jobe 3-(-2)
Passing -- Hendershot 9-23 176 2TD
Receiving -- Lazaro 1-34 TD, Phelps 4-90 TD, Cook 2-8, Jobe 1-33, Staton 1-11