The Ellison Eagles and Shoemaker Grey Wolves opened District 8-6A play at Leo Buckley Stadium on Friday night. The Eagles also celebrated their homecoming a week after handily defeating the University Trojans.
Rainy conditions and a wet field dictated a ball-control ground attack for the home Eagles who were led by junior running back Tye Hill. The run game was aided by an sufficient aerial performance by quarterbacks Breezion Spiller and Ta’Von Gwynn. Ellison’s stout defense kept the game close early and the Eagles eventually pulled away to a 25-20 victory.
The home Eagles received the opening kickoff and got things started with an electrifying return, however, they turned the ball over on an interception by Shoemaker’s Joseph Lowe.
Taking full advantage, the Wolves used four plays to cover 55 yards and score the game’s first points. Quarterback Jedarius Quarles connected with wide receiver Telly Sparks for 40 yards before hitting running back Ozias Wright for a 15-yard touchdown at the right pylon.
The Eagles answered by going 57 yards in 10 plays, capped by a 40-yard touchdown run by Hill.
Sloppy play plagued both teams for much of the second quarter but the Wolves used an Eagle fumble to break the tie. After Nathalohn Nanai’s fumble recovery, Wright went back to work and sprinted 60 yards for a TD. The extra point pinged off the left upright and the score settled at 13-7 for the duration of the first half.
Shoemaker ended the half with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and paid the price on the second half-kickoff. A squib kick by the Eagles set the Wolves offense up at their own 30. Despite quality field position, the Wolves punted after five plays. The defensive units of both teams took center stage and control of the game.
Shoemaker’s defensive line hurried Spiller on every dropback, forcing errant throws or heavy losses. The Eagles front seven was also aggressive, bottling up the Grey Wolves’ rushing attack and forcing consecutive punts before corraling Wright in his own end zone for a safety.
The Eagles closed the deficit to 13-9 on the Aubrey Kelly tackle for two points. Four plays later, Hill hit paydirt again from 10 yards out for the Eagles’ first lead of the night. The extra point split the uprights and Ellison led 16-13 with 9:40 remaining in the game.
Looking to capitalize on the momentum, Ellison recovered an onside kick but stalled in Shoemaker territory, ending its drive with a missed field goal.
The Wolves were forced to punt and wide receiver-turned-quarterback Gwynn made them pay. Gwynn dropped back to pass and found no open receivers before sprinting 49 yards down the right sideline for the Eagles’ final offensive score of the night.
With 5:13 remaining Ellison led 23-13.
Shoemaker fought to the end and drew within three points after shifting into its hurry-up offense and scoring a 20-yard TD on a strike from Quarles to Sparks. The Wolves’ onside kick attempt failed and Ellison was able to run down the remaining clock before turning the ball over with punt.
Shoemaker attempted a hook-and-ladder play at the end that resulted in another safety.