Coach David Foster predicted a close game with the Calhoun Academy Cougars and his Hebron Eagles got one.
“It was a defensive battle,” Foster said.
An Eagles’ win put them in first place and clinched a playoff berth while a loss put them in a numbers game for second place.
“All we had to do was go in and win, and we did do that, but it was a battle,” Foster said. “Calhoun has a good team.”
After rocking back and forth to a 0-0 halftime score, both teams renewed their offensive efforts in the third and the action really took off.
Calhoun scored first on a 51-yard run by Scott Shankle and the PAT by Cameron Bryant was good for a 7-0 lead.
The Eagles answered with Channing Tapley completing a drive for an eight-yard TD run, but the conversion failed leaving the Hebron boys trailing by one.
Tapley crossed the goal line again in the third, this time on a four-yard run. The kick failed, but the Eagles took a 12-7 lead.
Five points wasn’t much cushion and Foster’s team was feeling the pressure as Calhoun opened the fourth with a 59-yard TD pass and successful PAT to go up by two points.
Tapley hit Andrew Myatt for a 22-yard TD and connected with Collin Moore for the conversion putting the Eagles back in the lead by one touchdown.
“We kicked off and got the ball back,” Foster said. “We got a big first down and held on and ran the clock out.”
Foster gave credit to the Cougars for a tough game.
“They are a good team and were well prepared for us,” Foster said. “Our defense played a real good game. We adjusted at the half and they did too, but I think it helped our offense in the second half. We just kept plugging and working. It was a big win for our kids.”
Foster said there was great effort from the defense to hold Calhoun in check and the offensive line stepped up to the challenge to create opportunities, but credited sophomore QB Tapley for raising the level of play.
“Channing really played at a different level in this game,” Foster said. “He really took control. This game was probably one of his best efforts.”
The Eagles will host Delta Academy Friday for the first round of playoffs, but Foster said his team isn’t looking at it quite that way.
“We set a goal to get to the playoffs,” Foster said. “They treated that game (against Calhoun) like a playoff game.”
Hebron fell to Delta 22-16 earlier in the season and Foster knows the caliber of competition.
“I told them we have to take it in stages,” Foster said. “We wanted to finish first and we did that. We made it through that batch and now it’s one game at a time. Winner plays and loser stays home.”