Eustace opens 2019 with victory over Lone Oak
EUSTACE–The Eustace Bulldogs kicked off 2019 on the right foot as they picked up their first victory of the season against the Lone Oak Buffaloes Aug. 30 at home.
Eustace won the opening coin toss and elected to receive but couldn’t convert a first down on their initial drive of the season.
The defense didn’t wait too long to spring into action for the Bulldogs as senior defensive back Marquavius Griffin came up with the first interception of the night for Eustace as he picked off a pass on the Bulldogs’ own 42-yard line just under three minutes into the game.
The Buffaloes called their first timeout of the night with 3:56 remaining to try and slow the Bulldogs as they drove down the field. The Bulldogs would answer just 27 seconds later as quarterback Cooper Cates dove over a pile of players with an outstretched arm to break the plane for Eustace’s first touchdown of the year. After a successful point after attempt (PAT), the Bulldogs led 7-0.
The Bulldogs began the second quarter almost identical to the first quarter with junior Stefen Brooks causing the second turnover of the night as he recovered a fumble on the Lone Oak 12-yard line to put the Bulldogs in scoring range.
Cates would convert his second touchdown of the night as he ran the ball in from 12 yards out to give Eustace a 14-0 lead with 9:03 remaining in the first half.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Buffaloes got a good run all the way into Bulldogs’ territory before sophomore defensive back Jake Haney made a touchdown-saving tackle on the Eustace 32-yard line.
Brooks came up big again as he sacked the Lone Oak quarterback to force a turnover on downs as the Bulldogs kept the Buffaloes from scoring as they led 14-0 at halftime.
Wyatt Farmer recovered a botched kickoff return by Lone Oak to begin the second half for the Bulldogs as he recovered the ball on the 40-yard line. A fumble just a few plays later would give the Buffaloes possession.
With 10:03 remaining in the third quarter, the Buffaloes finally converted a scoring opportunity with a 30-yard touchdown catch before being stopped on the two-point conversion as they cut the deficit to 14-6.
Farmer made a play on the offensive side of the ball as well for the Bulldogs as he made a six-yard touchdown run with 6:38 remaining in the third quarter. A successful two-point conversion by Cates pushed the Eustace lead to 22-6.
Brooks made his third huge defensive play as he recovered a botched fair catch on a punt by the Buffaloes as the Bulldogs took over on their own 41-yard line.
The Eustace defense came up with a huge stop on fourth down at their own 16-yard line early in the fourth quarter.
They wouldn’t be as successful with 6:23 left as the Buffaloes picked up a first down on a 4th-and-1 on the Bulldogs’ six-yard line. They would score a five-yard touchdown and pick up the two-point conversion to make it a 22-14 game.
A taunting penalty late in the fourth quarter proved to be a non-factor after it erased a Eustace touchdown as Cates converted on a 14-yard run with 2:36 remaining to give Eustace a 29-14 lead they would never relinquish as they went on to victory in their first game of the season.
Eustace Head Coach Steve Smith felt good getting the first win of the season out of the way to begin the year.
“It’s awesome,” Smith said. “After starting off with six losses last year, it’s great to come out and get that first win at home.”
The Bulldogs dealt with a few injuries early and throughout the contest, but the way the team practices, Smith says they were able to make the adjustments necessary to have success.
“We practice two-deep. We give lots of reps to everybody, especially early in the year. I think our concentration that we showed and our depth, the guys were able to step up and keep us going.”
Stefen Brooks had a stand-out game for the Bulldogs defensively as he recovered three turnovers on the night and Smith says his team just builds off the intensity he brings to the game.
“He’s been an animal all year. He’s really an instinctive player and really plays all out. He always brings it and we rally around him and play as hard as he does and we’ll be in good shape,” Smith said of Brooks.
Cates led the way for the Bulldogs offensively as he had 28 carries for 204 yards and three touchdowns. Griffin added eight carries for 43 yards on the night for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs had 337 total yards on offensive as the Buffaloes managed 316 yards of total offensive on Friday night.
The Bulldogs begin the year 1-0 as they head out on the road for three weeks, beginning with a trip to Winona Sept. 6 to face the Wildcats (0-1)Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.