Despite missed tackles and untimely penalties, the Tremont football team had Friday’s game within reach with just over two minutes to go against Eureka.
The Turks had the ball at the Eureka 47-yard line with 2:01 left in the game and marched to the Eureka 11-yard line with 48 seconds left, but a pair of pass attempts to tight end Josh Class were swatted away by Eureka defenders.
Though the Turks (0-3, 0-1) trailed 14-0 entering the fourth quarter, they continued to battle and closed the gap.
“I saw a little bit more resilience in the second half,” Tremont head coach Lou Wicks said. “We had the opportunity to tie it up and took our chance on some balls up there. We got them knocked down and tried to make some catches.”
Tremont quarterback Logan Baxter completed five of 21 passes for 64 yards and a 2-yard rushing touchdown, but missed tackles and penalties — nine penalties for 57 yards — caught up with the Turks.
“We had some penalties and bad situations that we’ve got to stop if we want to win close games,” Wicks said.
The Turks strung together a 20-play, 70-yard drive to score a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. The long drive was important for the Turks to establish consistency on offense, Wicks said.
Eureka had three rushers eclipse the 40-yard mark. Wyatt Myers (82), Tanner Gladson (50) and Jacob Bachman (41) were part of the slow ground assault that racked up a team-total 177 yards on the ground.
Though no player rushed for over 100 yards, long drives by the Hornets were aided by the Tremont defense.
“It’s just trying to regroup after a first down and trying to put three straight good defensive efforts in a row to get a stop,” Wicks said. “We’ll get one, we’ll get two and then give up a little bit bigger of a play. It’s about being disciplined about what we’re supposed to be doing and get physical and finish up with good tackles.”
Tremont rusher Eli Finnegan finished with 124 yards on the ground for the Turks, increasing his season total to 276 yards.
Finnegan and Baxter both also play in the secondary for the Turks and Wicks is still seeking a way to give his players a break on defense.
“(Finnegan) is so much of our defense, it’s going to be hard to get him out of there,” Wicks said.
Defensive back and wide receiver Tucker Runyon will offer relief both on offense and defense when he returns next week against Heyworth at home.