When you haven’t lost a regular-season game in over four years, you get everyone’s best shot.
On Friday night, the Eastern View football team was reminded all too well of that.
The Cyclones were pushed to the limit for the better part of three quarters by host King George, but were able to pull away late for a 41-14 Battlefield District victory.
With the win—its 44th in a row in regular-season contests dating back to September 2015—Eastern View moves to 8-0 overall and 4-0 in the district.
King George falls to 3-4, 0-3 with the loss.
“They really took it to us, especially in the first half,” Eastern View head coach Greg Hatfield said of the upset-minded Foxes. “This was the toughest game we’ve had all season. To be honest, I think we needed this test to find out what we’re made of.”
King George was more than happy to oblige—particularly early on.
The Foxes’ defense suffocated the Cyclones to the tune of just 64 yards of total offense in the first half, sacking quarterback Till Butler twice and holding Eastern View’s normally high-octane running game to 22 yards on 15 carries.
“We know that Eastern View likes to run the ball first and foremost, so we made it a priority to stop that and force them to throw the ball,” King George head coach Vern Lunsford said. “We did a great job with tackling early in the game, especially in the open field.”
The problem for the Foxes was that Butler—and the Cyclones’ talented receiving corps—proved up to the challenge after halftime.
With the score tied at 7 early in the third quarter, Butler connected with Alex Spangler on a fade route in the back right corner of the end zone, giving Eastern View a 14-7 lead at the 8:34 mark of the stanza.
On the Cyclones’ next drive, Butler found a wide-open Eli Harris down the right sideline for a 48-yard touchdown that pushed the visitors’ edge to 21-7 with 5:59 left in the period.
When King George responded with an 18-yard scoring pass from quarterback Charles Mutter to Javon Campbell to pull back within seven points at 21-14 on the ensuing possession, Butler and Co. kept their heads up and simply went back to work.
On a second-and-18 play from the Eastern View 32-yard line, Butler hooked up with Blake Leake on a crossing route. The Bucknell commit slipped a tackle, reached the right sideline and sprinted untouched the rest of the way for a 68-yard touchdown to make it 28-14 with 30 seconds remaining in the quarter.
That was essentially the beginning of the end for the Foxes.
King George turned the ball over on downs at its own 42 on the next drive, and it took Eastern View just four plays to capitalize, as Raq Lawson plunged in from a yard out for a 34-14 Cyclones’ lead.
For good measure, Leake added a 17-yard interception return for a score with 5:36 left, slamming the door shut on the Foxes’ upset hopes.
Leake finished the evening with three receptions for a game-high 128 yards and two touchdowns, having tallied the Cyclones’ lone first-half score on a 29-yard strike from Butler in the second quarter. He also hauled in two of Eastern View’s three interceptions.
“I just did my job,” Leake said. “We knew [King George] would be a challenge. A lot of the players on both teams know each other very well and have even played together at one point or another.”
One of the King George players who Leake is very familiar with is Mutter. Following an injury scare in last week’s 22-21 loss to James Monroe, Mutter shook off “whiplash” to take the field against Eastern View. He was sacked three times by the Cyclones and finished 12-of-22 passing for 123 yards with a touchdown and the three picks.
“They’re a great team,” Mutter said of Eastern View. “Their defense made things tough on me all night.”
Butler, who completed 7 of 15 passes for 204 yards and four scores, said the Cyclones simply weren’t sharp early in the game.
“We came out flat,” he said. “King George took advantage of that and played us tough. In the second half, we were all able to get into a rhythm and play our game.”
Hatfield pointed to penalties as a major reason for Eastern View’s first-half struggles. The Cyclones were whistled nine times for 66 yards before intermission, and they finished the night with 16 infractions for a total of 141 yards.
“The penalties were ridiculous,” Hatfield said. “It was absolutely inexcusable the way we played in the first half. We’ll need to clean that up if we want to keep winning football games.”
|Eastern View||0|| 7||21||13||—||41|
|King George||0|| 7||7||0||—||14|
EV—Blake Leake 29-yard pass from Till Butler (Garrett Hutchinson kick).
KG—Darrian Hodsden 31-yard pass from Javon Campbell (Ryan Kuberek kick).
EV—Alex Spangler 15-yard pass from Till Butler (Garrett Hutchinson kick).
EV—Eli Harris 48-yard pass from Till Butler (Garrett Hutchinson kick).
KG—Javon Campbell 18-yard pass from Charles Mutter (Ryan Kuberek kick).
EV—Blake Leake 68-yard pass from Till Butler (Garrett Hutchinson kick).
EV—Raq Lawson 1-yard run (kick failed).
EV—Blake Leake 17-yard interception return (Garrett Hutchinson kick).
RUSHING: Eastern View—Raq Lawson 8-61, TD; Ronta Robinson 15-60; Till Butler 7-(-18); Team 2-(-10). King George—Javon Campbell 11-47; Charles Mutter 10-41; Von Whiting 1-8; J.J. Kidd 5-8; Gabe Aley 2-6; Tyler Thompson 1-3; Chris Cox 1-2.
PASSING: Eastern View—Till Butler 7-15-0, 204 yards, 4 TDs. King George—Charles Mutter 12-22-3, 123 yards; Javon Campbell 1-1-0, 31 yards, TD.
RECEIVING: Eastern View—Blake Leake 3-128, 2 TDs; Eli Harris 2-50, TD; Alex Spangler 1-15, TD; Chance Graves 1-11. King George—Chris Cox 6-46; Larry Rowe 1-42; Darrian Hodsden 1-31, TD; Javon Campbell 2-31, TD; Tyler Thompson 1-4; Gabe Aley 2-0.