BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
DONNELLLSON — Chuck Banks wanted Central Lee’s football team to set a tone with a strong first drive.
And it was a good start, until the final play.
Central Lee’s 29-14 loss to Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont on Friday night was another one of those nights when the Hawks missed out on plenty of chances.
They fell behind 22-0, rallied, and had opportunities to score late, but couldn’t convert.
“I think,” Banks said, “we just shot ourselves in the foot.”
And it started at the beginning.
Central Lee (0-5) had a 13-play, 61-yard drive that took 5 minutes, 16 seconds off the clock. But when Dylan Stuecker’s pass was intercepted by E-B-F’s Alex Garman in the end zone on a third-and-6 play from the Rockets’ 12-yard line, the Hawks came away with nothing.
And the failure to get anything on that drive was magnified when E-B-F took four plays to drive 80 yards for a touchdown, a 56-yard run by Ethan Olivas that put the Rockets up, 8-0.
“That’s kind of been the story,” Banks said. “We get the ball moving. I thought we had some flashes of brilliance tonight. We need some positivity, get out ahead, get some momentum. But tonight we lost all of our momentum.”
E-B-F (2-2) added to that lead on the Hawks’ next possession when Thane Alexander intercepted Stuecker’s pass and returned it 55 yards for a 15-0 margin.
And when Garman scored on a 2-yard run on the Rockets’ next possession, E-B-F had a 22-0 lead.
That was followed by Garman recovering the onside kick, and it looked like the game was going to get away from the Hawks.
But Central Lee got the ball back three plays later when Blake Jager had the ball knocked out by Keagan Sapp and the Hawks’ Blake Moeller recovered.
“That’s a senior making a play,” Banks said. “And we needed it.”
That allowed Central Lee to strike before halftime. A 5-play, 85-yard drive ended with Stuecker’s 24-yard pass to Kade Myhre, and the Hawks trailed just 22-7.
Olivas, who rushed for 128 yards, scored on a 26-yard run to open the second half for E-B-F’s final points.
The Hawks answered back with a 1-yard touchdown run by Stuecker on their first possession of the half for what proved to be the final margin.
They would get more chances to score.
Central Lee drove to the E-B-F 10 on its next possession, but was stopped on fourth down. The Hawks also got the ball on the E-B-F 44 on their next drive, but were again stopped on fourth down.
“We were never really out of it,” Banks said. “We had plenty of chances, even at the end. But we just shot ourselves in the foot.”
Stuecker threw for 202 yards. Jaden Betker rushed for 115 yards for the Hawks.