ELWOOD – Sunshine and heated competition warmed the cool wind on Thursday in Elwood as the Pirates hosted the Overton Eagles for some football. The back-and-forth affair saw the teams trading the lead until the Pirates edged the Eagles in the final quarter for a 42-38 win, claiming the Class D2-7 District Championship.
Conner Schutz led the Pirates from the helm of the ship, as well as scoring the first touchdown of the game, in their opening drive, on a three yard run. Schutz also scored the two point conversion to take an 8-0 lead on the eagles. On the return drive, Ryan Lauby ran in a 27 yard touchdown on a second down and six. The Pirates held the Eagles on the conversion attempt to hold a small lead, 8-6.
Overton forced the Pirates to a fourth down on their next drive and received the punt at their own eight yard line. Overton gained the first down on their 21 yard line when Ryan Lauby broke free for a 59 yard carry into the end zone to take the lead for the Eagles. Elwood was able to stop another attempted conversion by the Eagles holding them to 8-12 lead.
In the Pirates’ second play of the return drive, Schutz launched a ball to Hank ‘The Tank’ Green for a 42 yard touchdown. Zacob Evans cut the left corner of the end zone to gain an additional two points for the Pirates, putting Elwood in the lead, 16-12 with 4:49 left in the first quarter.
The rest of the quarter went scoreless.
The Pirates were in possession of the ball at the start of the second quarter. The Eagles held Elwood’s advances, forcing them to a fourth down and took possession on their own 35 yard line. The Eagles’ first play of the quarter saw a pass bounce off the helmet of an Eagle receiver and into the hands of Zacob Evans for the Pirates. The turnover offered the Pirates opportunity for Conner Schutz to score another touchdown on a five yard run, extending the Pirates’ lead, 22-12.
A fire stoked in Overton in the remainder of the second quarter. The Eagles scored two more touchdowns, first scored by Lauby on a 42 yard run and the second by Addy Vance on a 30 yard carry. The Pirates stopped one conversion attempt, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Eagles from taking the lead at half-time, 22-26.
After the half, 3:29 into the third quarter, Elwood recaptured the lead with a 16 yard touchdown scored by Schutz. The Eagles held them on the conversion attempt but the Pirates took a small lead, 28-26. The score that made the difference for the Pirates surfaced with 2:44 left in the third when Zacob Evans caught a seven yard pass from Schutz to extend their lead to 34-26. Trevor Jorges connected a pass to Schutz for a two point conversion to give the Pirates a 10-point lead, 36-26.
The Eagles answered with one run in the last minute of the third quarter when Wyatt Ryan caught a 38-yard pass from Ryan Johnson. The Pirates held the Eagles on the conversion attempt and narrowed the gap on the Elwood boys, 36-32.
Overton pushed for another touchdown to regain the lead in the fourth quarter. A little over three minutes into the quarter Lauby broke away for another big run, 41 yards, to put the Eagles back in the lead. After Elwood stopped the conversion attempt the Eagles led, 36-38.
The lead traded one more time in the game, with just six minutes left in the game, when Zacob Evans scored the final touchdown of the game on a four yard carry. The Eagles blocked the conversion and the Pirates held a 42-38 lead.
“Offensively, I thought we had a great game,” said Overton head coach Paul Heusinkvelt after the game. “Defensively, we didn’t make the plays when we needed to stop their big plays.”
Coach Heusinkvelt also felt that the Eagles went mentally prepared for the match-up but were unable to stop the Pirates’ passing game.
“We were right on target, mentally, and we knew it was going to be a tight game,” he explained. “We knew we were going to have to stop their pass and we didn’t get it done. We made some mistakes and they capitalized on those mistakes.”
The Elwood Pirates’ head coach, Patrick Ropers, felt that his players just came through at the right time in the right situations for the win.
“We did a lot of good things,” he said. “We made plays when we had to and we had kids step up when we needed them to.”
Coach Ropers felt the Pirates played appropriately against a difficult opponent according to their game plan saying, "Overton is a really good team and we had to focus on their running game. We gave up some plays and they got the edge in some situations, but I’m proud of these kids and how they stepped up.”
The Elwood Pirates’ farewell season ends 7-1 before the postseason begins and the Class D2-7 District Championship is the icing on the cake for the Maroon Platoon. The Overton Eagles also end their season positively, despite the loss to Elwood, ending the regular season 5-3.