Defense Anchors Sullivan In Delayed Season Opener

Sullivan’s defense did the heavy lifting on Friday even as the Week 1 tilt at Hillsboro threatened to stretch into Saturday.

In the midst of a driving rain that delayed the season opener by 2.5 hours, the Eagles pitched a shutout, winning 6-0.

The game stopped just shy of midnight, but it was worth the wait.

The victory gave head coach Cody Davis the first of his career and was the program’s first Week 1 victory since defeating Park Hills Central 34-6 in 2012.

The Eagles also avenged a 30-17 loss to Hillsboro in Week 1 last season.

Lucas Glaser had the game’s only score on Friday with a 9-yard touchdown run. He finished with 34 yards on 12 carries.

Carter Dace was a force throughout the first half and he finished with 66 yards on 10 carries.

Sullivan limited the Hawks to less than 60 yards. Hillsboro had five second-half drives, three ending with a turnover on downs and one on a fumble.

Hillsboro put together a long drive to begin the third quarter and advanced the ball to the Sullivan 23, but were stopped when they failed to convert a fourth down.

The Hawks would get three shots in the fourth quarter, but Sullivan’s defense never budged. Dace came through a sack on a third-and-5 to force a punt midway through the period. With under two minutes to go, Trey Blankenship busted through the line to make a fourth down stop and all but secure the victory for Sullivan.

Sullivan was able to overcome their own offensive issues, though the weather played a major factor.

The teams struggled to hang on to the ball. Hillsboro committed the first turnover early in the first quarter on a fumble. 

Sullivan fumbled on the ensuing drive, but recovered. They weren’t fortunate enough on their next drive, committing their first giveaway. 

Hillsboro returned the favor. On a fourth-and-1, Evan Shetley blew up the play inside and recorded a sack. The Eagles recovered the ball for their second takeaway.

Ball security remained a tough task with the teams flipping possession. Sullivan fumbled the ball on all three of their subsequent snaps, but managed to recover each slip-up. 

Early in the second quarter, Sullivan blocked a Hawks punt. The ball bounced off a Sullivan player, but it never traveled past the line of scrimmage. Possession stayed with the Eagles, who pushed the ball to the Hillsboro 25. 

The drive ended with an interception by Levi Hurt, allowing Hillsboro to take over at their own 14. 

Special teams woes were mixed in with turnovers for the Hawks, who were forced to punt from their own 20. The kick traveled all of six yards, setting Sullivan up at the Hillsboro 26.

Sullivan nearly gave the Hawks a defensive score when a busted pitch play on third-and-6 saw the ball wind up on the ground. Hillsboro pounced and began heading towards the end zone, but referees ruled that it was already down.

That set up fourth-and-10 and Sullivan’s only pass completion of the night. Hurt connected with Dace on a jump pass for 18 yards, advancing the ball to the Hillsboro 8.

Two plays later, Glaser found his way to the end zone for a touchdown with 48 seconds left in the half.

Hillsboro would fumble the ball away again, giving the Eagles a spot at the Hawks 27. With two seconds left, Dace took a draw up the middle and was pulled down at the 5, good for 24 yards.

Sullivan’s offense wouldn’t produce another big play, but with the defense leading the way, they had all they needed.

Sullivan Independent News

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