ASHTON, W.Va. — Beginner’s luck? Not exactly.
Pike Eastern scored on five of its first six offensive possessions, finished plus-2 in turnover differential and surrendered less than 100 yards defensively in its first-ever varsity football contest Friday night during a 39-14 triumph over host Hannan in the 2014 season opener held at Wildcat Field in Mason County.
The visiting Eagles (1-0) — who are slated to join the varsity ranks full time in the Southern Ohio Conference Division I next fall — made the most of their inaugural Friday night game by storming out to a 33-0 halftime advantage and never looking back.
The Wildcats (0-1) — who mustered only 97 yards of total offense — battled until the final horn as the hosts went on to outscore EHS by a 14-6 margin in the second half, but the early deficit was simply too much to overcome.
“We made some good adjustments at halftime and started putting some stuff together, but things didn’t go very well for us in the first half,” HHS coach Mike Wallace said. “We’ll just have to learn from our mistakes and try to get better next week. We still have a lot of season left to play.”
Hannan managed only 38 yards and one first down in the first quarter and had just 42 yards and two first downs at halftime. The Brown and Orange, conversely, put together scoring drives of 25, 63, 38, 25 and 48 yards in a total of 25 plays — which resulted in the 33-point intermission advantage.
The Eagles finished the first half with 243 yards of total offense and nine first downs, as well as three passing scores and a rushing touchdown. EHS ended the night with 327 yards of total offense, which included 152 rushing yards on 36 carries.
Eastern also played a small part in the Wildcats first score of the night, which came on fourth down of the opening drive in the second half.
Facing a fourth-and-seven from its own 40-yard line, the snap back to Eastern punter Ethan Green sailed over his head and towards the end zone. The ball was batted around by a handful of players, pushing it closer to the goal line
It appeared that the ball was going to roll out of the back of the end zone, but Jarad Lunsford managed to gain control of it just before crossing the back line — giving HHS its first points of the night with 10:05 left in the third.
Both teams traded scores from there on out, allowing Eastern to wrap up the 25-point victory in its first gridiron appearance.
“This is really hard to put into words,” EHS coach Scott Tomlison said. “This is two-and-a-half years of hard work for these boys. They’ve put in the work, the school and the community have put in the work and stood behind this program. For these guys to get to come out here under the lights and perform, it’s just a great feeling that is so hard to put in words.
“They played their hearts out tonight. They’ve talked for two weeks about wanting to win this first game, wanting to be part of the first team to win a varsity football game. They did that and I’m happy for all of them to be part of that — particularly for our six seniors who only had this one chance.”
Eastern quarterback Ethan Leist threw for 175 yards and four touchdowns on 11-of-22 passing while also adding another 63 yards on the ground. Trace Creech and Cole Fremont each rushed for a score and respectively finished the night with 33 and 19 yards.
Dalton Tomlison hauled in five passes for 51 yards and caught two TDs, including the program’s first-ever touchdown — a 12-yard reception from Leist with 6:21 left in the first. Creech also hauled in two TD catches and finished with 89 yards on three grabs.
Eastern claimed a 14-5 overall edge in first downs and committed 14 penalties for 95 yards, compared to just 30 yards on four flags for the Wildcats.
Chad Withers paced the Hannan rushing attack with four carries for 36 yards, followed by Kyler McReynolds with nine totes for 25 yards. Charles Mayes hit Issac Tincher with an 8-yard scoring pass with 3:26 left in regulation for the hosts’ only offensive score.
Zack Hickenbottom, Wesley Hodge and Ocie Jennings each had an interception in the triumph, while Tomlison led EHS with two QB sacks. Fremont and Quentin Alley also recorded a sack apiece for the guests.
Hannan returns to action Friday night when it travels South Floyd (KY) for a Week 2 non-conference matchup at 7:30 p.m.