Eagles to keep battling despite recent struggles

Saturday, September 23, 2017

WEST TERRE HAUTE — In the closing minutes of the third quarter Friday night, the South Putnam Eagles made a statement at West Vigo High School.

The Vikings were well under way to a 31-0 homecoming victory over the Eagles in the WIC West contest. But the Vikings were also on the Eagles’ 1-yard line.

Digging in, the Eagles stopped the Vikings at the one and took possession of the ball on downs. The Eagles got a little reward.

“Right now every day for us it’s getting better for the playoffs,” South Putnam coach Nathan Aker said. “We’re not going to overlook anybody, we’re not going to cash anything in, we’re going to fight every day, fight every week. Put you put your blinders on and you focus. You know there is a reward coming.”

South Putnam was shut out for the second week in a row. The Eagles gained just two first downs for the entire game and were limited to a negative three yards rushing.

“We haven’t scored an offensive touchdown in a couple of weeks,” Aker said. “We’re struggling to keep things plugging along. We have a good protection, then we have a bad pass. We have a bad protection, then we don’t have a chance. We don’t finish a block on a run play, we get stuck for a loss. Offensive inconsistency has been the name of the game.”

South Putnam’s biggest offensive play was a fake punt in the fourth quarter. Backed up to its own end zone, on fourth down, punter Michael LeBlanc took the snap and threw a pass to Christian Zeffel, normally the quarterback, for a 30-yard gain. The next four plays South didn’t gain a yard.

West Vigo took advantage of South’s early troubles to build a 14-0 lead less than three minutes into the contest. However, the remainder of the half, South Putnam held the Vikings to just three points. South Putnam’s John Hodge intercepted a pass in the end zone to end one West Vigo threat in the second period. West Vigo led 17-0 at halftime.

The Eagles didn’t cross the 50-yard line offensively in the first half. But accepting the opening kickoff of the second half, the Eagles gained their initial first down of the night when Zeffel ran for 13 yards on a quarterback keeper.

The next play, South was called for holding and after that, West Vigo sacked Zeffel, forcing a punt.

South Putnam 0 0 0 0 — 0

West Vigo 14 3 7 7 — 31

WV — Braxton Gabbard 55 pass from Jake Lautenschlager (Sean Beaver kick), 7-0, 10:57 Q1.

WV — Logan Shepard 8 run (Beaver kick), 14-0, 9:03 Q1.

WV — Beaver 24 field goal, 17-0, 0:00.

WV — Matt Berkley 66 pass from Lautenschlager (Beaver kick), 24-0, 7:07 Q3.

WV — Gabbard 47 run (Beaver kick), 31-0, 9:56 Q4.


First downs 2 17

Rushes-yards 25-(-3) 37-238

Passing yards 102 199

Comp-Att-Int 11-21-2 8-16-2

Return yards 75 81

Punts-Avg. 6-35.1 1-29

Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-1

Penalties-yards 4-36 5-40

Individual statistics

Rushing – South Putnam: Scott 4-9, Cashion 5-0, LeBlanc 6-(-3), Zeffel 10-(-5). West Vigo: Gabbard 18-132, Lautenschlager 4-34, Hannahs 4-30, Andrews 3-16, Shepard 3-10, King 2-1, K. McCalister 1-2.

Passing – South Putnam: Zeffel 10-20-2—72; LeBlanc 1-1-0—30. West Vigo: Lautenschlager 8-16-2—199.

Receiving – South Putnam: LeBlanc 4-29, Cashion 2-12, Zeffel 1-30, Teipen 1-24, Hodge 1-5, Glover 1-2. West Vigo: Gabbard 3-68, Hannahs 2-39, Berkley 1-66, King 1-17, Stevens 1-9.

Next game – Next Friday, West Vigo (4-2, 2-1 in WIC West) will host North Putnam and South Putnam (1-5, 0-3 in WIC West) will host Sullivan.

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