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Crawford loses heartbreaker at Eastern


October 16, 2013
Crawford County went into its road game at Eastern (Pekin) with injuries on both sides of the ball but was still a slight favorite over the Musketeers. The Wolfpack had players take a step to fill the holes of those forced to the sidelines. Still, that wasn't quite enough as the Musketeers left the Wolfpack stinging in a 32-30 loss.

PATTON
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Crawford County's Andrew Patton goes to his knees in disappointment as officials measured a final first down for the Eastern Musketeers with just over a minute to go in the game. The Wolfpack, who had no time-outs left, went on to lose a 32-30 heartbreaker. Photo by Wade Bell
"We had two starters out on both sides of the ball," Crawford County coach Alan Hess said. "Our leading offensive weapon was out. Our leading interception man was out, and they burned us on a couple of deep balls. Would it have made a difference? I don't know. Injuries provide you an excuse to say that's why we didn't win. I prefer to say the guys we had step up. The next man up theory, they bought in."

An indicator of how the game would go came in the first two minutes as both teams intercepted each other's passes. Eastern intercepted a second Crawford County pass later in the period. That one led to the first score of the night as Austin Roberts threw to Jordan Eberle for a 35-yard touchdown and a 7-0 score after one quarter.

The next scoring didn't come until late in the second quarter. Eastern began a drive on its own 41-yard line. It took 12 plays for the Musketeers to move to the 2-yard line. With 1:52 left in the half, Brian Arnold took the ball in to score, and the extra point gave the Musketeers a 14-0 lead.

That lasted briefly as Crawford County immediately retaliated. The Wolfpack took the kickoff to their own 37-yard line. Two plays later, Justin Majors took the ball down the right sideline. The senior ran all the way to the end zone to score. Levi Schwartz got the conversion, and Eastern's lead was cut to six, 14-8, at halftime.

"We've got to limit the big plays, and we've got to capitalize and realize that, when the moment is there, you've got to seize that moment, make the most of it," Hess said. "We failed to do so."

Eastern took the ball to begin the second half and wasted no time getting on the board again, with Arnold getting his second touchdown with 9:38 to go in the third period for a 20-8 lead.

Crawford County put itself back in the game on its next possession. It took 10 plays, but, with 5:48 to go in the third period, Majors scored again, this time on a 12-yard run to close the gap to 20-14.

Eastern gave up the ball on downs on its next possession, and this time Crawford County took advantage of the opportunity. The Wolfpack pushed the ball on the ground to the 12-yard line. Schwartz got the call on the next play and took the ball in to score. Seth Fell got the conversion, and the Wolfpack took a 22-20 lead after three periods.

"These guys that needed to play and were in a limited role, we've been easing them in," Hess said of his bench players. "Todd Lang, Justin Majors, Hayden Fell, those kids played their (butts) off tonight."

Then came an active fourth quarter. Less than a minute into the fourth quarter, Eastern scored on a 1-yard run. The Musketeer conversion failed, leaving Eastern with a 26-22 lead.

On its next possession, Crawford County rallied. Andrew Patton returned the ball to the 43-yard line. The Wolfpack kept the ball on the ground again, advancing to the 11-yard line. Lang then put the Wolfpack out in front with a touchdown. Fell went in for his second conversion of the night, giving the Wolfpack a 30-26 lead.

"We ran the ball well," Hess said. "We challenged them this week. We ran it well against Valley. We ran it well against Paoli, and we want to create that identity."

Crawford County went for the onside kick, but Eastern's Nick Emmert fell on the ball near midfield. This time the Musketeers ran a ground game to the 11-yard line on five plays. Scot Ames got the call on the next play and gained six. Crawford County stopped the conversion attempt, but the Musketeers had a 32-20 lead.

The Wolfpack failed to get any momentum on their next possession and gave the ball up on downs.

Eastern pushed the ball down field, forcing Crawford County to use up its time-outs. On fourth down with 54.1 seconds left, Eastern moved the ball to the 13-yard line, but a measurement was needed to see if the Musketeers would keep the ball. The chains gave Eastern a first down by mere inches, and the Musketeers kept the ball the remaining minute, leading to the 32-30 win.

"We needed one big stop, and we didn't get it," Hess said. "It's discouraging, it's frustrating, it hurts, but it should hurt. The boys have bought in and it bothers them. That's a good thing. There's positives to take away from tonight. We just didn't get it done."

"We came out and it took us a while to get anything going offensively, turnovers again," Hess said. "We gave them the two picks early, and they converted on one. Then, we had a fourth and 5 and jump offsides and gave them a first down and they score there. Take those away and it's a different ballgame."

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Schuler Bauer
Barbara Shaw
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