BEREA — The Eagles were well on their way to victory on Friday night in their home opener against former district rival Southwestern.
In the last two minutes of regulation — the Warriors fought back.
Southwestern (1-1) tied the game, 27-27, and came back in an unbelievable overtime performance to top Southern 35-34 and capture their first win of the season.
The Eagles fall to 0-2 on the season with the loss.
It was a long hard fall for Southern on Friday in Berea.
“We just gave it away,” Southern coach Jon Clark said after the game. “I’m a big believer in the process and some of our guys are taking shortcuts at practice and throughout the week — just going through the motions — and it shows up on Friday nights. We could’ve won this game if we had wanted to.”
Both teams were scoreless through the first quarter, but it was the Warriors who were the first to strike in the opening minutes of the second.
Connor Crisp rushed for a 16-yard touchdown to give the Warriors their first lead of the season, 7-0.
However, the Eagles clawed back — hard.
Southern responded with three-straight touchdowns and 21-straight points to take a 21-7 lead at halftime.
After the successful Warrior drive, Southern made use of an explosive kick off return run from Adrian Jones to put them within 30 yards of the goal.
The quick-footed Jones came through moments later with a carry for 10 yards to tie up the game 7-7.
Southern’s defense got busy on the Warrior’s next drive and snatched up a fumble from Southwestern’s Chase Doan to put the Eagles at the 42 yard line.
Southern quarterback Tobias Storm then handed the ball off to running back Cameron Holbrook, who booked it down the field for 30 yards for a touchdown.
The D-line came through again on the Warriors next play with a huge sack to put the Eagles once again in scoring territory.
Storm waited patiently in the pocket before launching a long pass to Walt Smith on the far left side.
With a Warrior defender hot on his tail, Smith threw himself across the goal line and made a spectacular one-handed catch in the air for a touchdown.
Southwestern wasn’t ready to give up yet and came storming back in the third quarter, stifling the Eagle offense.
With a minute to go in the third quarter, the Warriors scored their second touchdown.
Once again, the Eagles answered.
Just 10 seconds later, Southern’s Jayshaun Etheridge cruised through a huge hole in the Warriors defense to score and expand the Eagle lead 27-13.
The Eagles were well on their way to another scoring drive mid-way through the fourth quarter when a fumble turned the ball over to Southwestern.
“That fumble killed us,” Clark said.
Southwestern took advantage and Crisp scored his third touchdown of the night on a 15-yard carry but failed to get the two point conversion to make it 27-19.
With less than six minutes remaining, Broc Parmer blocked a punt but the Eagles turned it over on downs leaving the Warriors enough time to complicate things.
They did just that.
With 19 seconds to go in regulation, the Warriors crawled back and tied the game 27-27 and force overtime.
Southern made quick work in overtime with a rushing touchdown from Adrian Jones in the first few seconds to take a 34-27 lead.
However, the Warriors refused to quit and Austin Barnes blew through a hole in Southern’s defense on their possession to make it 34-33.
First year Southwestern head coach Jason Foley decided to go for the two-point conversion and Barnes once again found daylight to snatch the victory away from the Eagles.
“We have to be more disciplined in how we approach the game. It’s the only way to win. I thought at times tonight our offense looked great and then our defense did well and overall our special teams are stepping up... It’s not enough to sometimes be okay… We have to come together,” Clark said.
Southern will face Madison Central next on Friday in Richmond.