Eagles season comes to a close
August 27, 2008 · Updated 7:07 PM
The Arlington Eagles football team competed favorably with the Auburn Trojans for one half during their Nov. 2 clash. The teams went into the locker room with Auburn leading 14-7 and it appeared as though the Eagles might spring a big upset. But the second half was dominated by the Trojans as Auburn pulled away for a 34-7 victory.
Bolstered by the return of quarterback Brandon Gunter, the Eagles showed plenty of fight right from the opening kick. Arlington took the ball first and Gunter hit Jerad Barber on a 15-yard slant on third-and-18. Though the catch was short of a first down, Auburn jumped offsides on fourth down, gifting the Eagles the necessary yardage.
Three plays later, Gunter burst through the left side of the line for 13 more yards. But as the Eagles crossed into the Trojan half of the field, the going got tougher. Facing a fourth-and-three on the Trojan 43-yard line Coach Tim Tramp elected to roll the dice and go for it. Travis Doggett was driven back on an inside run and the Trojans took over.
It didnt take long for Auburn to show why they have been so successful this season. Using a variety of disguised handoffs the Trojans moved the ball steadily down the field. A fullback dive from two yards out gave Auburn the first score of the game and a 6-0 lead.
When Arlington got the ball back they looked to answer. Michael Keating pounded into the line for five hard-earned yards on first down, but the Eagles had trouble running over the Trojan defensive line. On fourth down at their own 30-yard line, Arlington elected to punt. A high snap over the punters head was downed on the 10-yard line by the Trojans. Three plays later they led 14-0.
Facing a potential blowout the Eagles offense responded with an impressive drive. Starting on their own 28-yard line, Brad McPherson snapped off seven yards through the middle of the line. Gunter then hit Barber again for a first down at the 50-yard line. Three straight running plays moved the ball inside the Trojan 40-yard line, but the third play looked to be bad for the Eagles. Gunter scrambled for a first down on the play, but was tackled awkwardly and lay prone on the field while medical personal ran to check on him.
As Gunter received treatment on the sideline, sophomore Jake Parduhn entered the game for the Eagles. Parduhn threw a screen pass to D.J. Lockwood and Lockwood made two tacklers miss on his way to a 15-yard gain. After two running plays that gained little yardage, Parduhn was sacked 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage to bring up fourth-and-20. The Eagles punted and the ball was downed on Auburns 3-yard line.
The drive gave the Eagles confidence, it showed they could move the ball against a stingy defensive front. It also gave the defense a chance to catch their breath. And the defense responded with a big play of its own. Chris Brookhyser pounced on a fumble by the Trojan running back at the 20-yard line to give Arlingtons offense the ball back.
Gunter reentered the game and threw a strike to his favorite target Barber who wove past the safety on his way to a touchdown.
Trailing 14-7, the Eagles kickoff team came out fired up. Doggett made a crushing tackle of the return man as the Trojans took possession on their 30-yard line. Auburn failed to move anywhere as the first half whistle blew. It appeared as though the Eagles would take all the momentum into halftime with them.
But luck would favor the Trojans in the second frame. Arlington forced another fumble from the Trojans on the Auburn 30-yard line. There were four Eagles with a shot at the football as it hopped along the turf, but none could come up with the ball. The Trojans gladly reclaimed it and punted the ball away, instead of giving up great field position.
Arlington couldnt do anything with their first drive of the half either and was forced to punt. This time, Auburn took advantage. As the clock expired on the third quarter, the Eagles had been pushed back down to their own goalline. Auburn punched the ball in on the first play of the fouth quarter for a 21-7 lead.
The Trojans dominated play the rest of the way, benefitting from a second botched punt from the Eagles to go ahead 27-7. Arlington then fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Auburn delivered the final score of the game. They ran it in to go ahead 34-7.
Playing against an excellent football team, the Arlington Eagles did all they could. They kept the score close for three quarters, and might have done better if not for a few bad breaks at critical moments. But credit Auburns powerful running attack and talented defensive line for making things tough for the Eagles.
After the game Coach Tramp addressed his disappointed team at the midfield stripe.
Its been my pleasure coaching you all year. he said, You gave your best effort and then some. You played hard, you played physical, you played your tails off.
It was an emotional ending to a fine season for the Eagles football team. The Eagles showed a lot of courage against Auburn and walked off with their heads held high.