Eatman, IC Catholic keep sizzling
Lazerick Eatman did Wilmington no favors, but maybe Wilmington did one for him.
The Wildcats ran nine plays right off the bat on Saturday, Eatman in IC Catholic Prep's defensive secondary all the while. Wilmington's drive finally stalled, and on the Knights' first offensive play Eatman ran 80 yards for a touchdown.
"I was warm because I was on defense," Eatman said. "That helped me out, kept my legs warm."
Not warm -- hot. Like the rest of the No. 5 seed Knights, who earned their third straight Class 3A semifinal berth with a 46-21 win over No. 8 Wilmington at Jack Lewis Stadium in Elmhurst. The defending champions will visit No. 3 Byron, a 13-0 winner over No. 2 Williamsville.
Eatman ran for 225 yards on just 9 carries, including a 50-yard touchdown run on IC Catholic's second series, a 56-yard run to set up the Knights' third score, and an 8-yard touchdown run.
"He's reading on his path and not having a hesitation," said ICCP coach Bill Krefft.
Needing only 3 minutes, 28 seconds to score 3 touchdowns in a close first half, IC Catholic Prep turned to a defense that set up 4 unanswered second-half touchdowns.
"Our defense won us the game," Eatman said. "Without them it'd have probably been way closer than it was. They got a lot of stops and we actually scored on defense. That helped us also."
The game pitted Wilmington's ground-based double wing -- quarterback Keaton Hopwood completed one pass, an 11-yard touchdown to Conner Dempsay that tied the scored 14-14 in the second quarter -- against ICCP's quick-strike spread.
"I think that's not a bad game plan against us, to control the ball and keep our offense off the field," Krefft said. "But that only works if we don't score, so if we're scoring like we were because of the offensive staff and the kids performing on offense, then ball control is kind of irrelevant to it."
Leading 21-14 at halftime, ICCP scored on C.J. West's 27-yard touchdown pass to Khali Saunders. Two plays later Knights linebacker Kevin Cooke forced a fumble Saunders returned 25 yards for his second defensive touchdown of the season and a 33-14 lead.
A penalty, another lost Wilmington fumble quickly followed by Eatman's 8-yard touchdown run, and it was 39-14 after three quarters.
"It's hard enough to beat them, and then when you start beating yourself, then you've got to beat them too and it becomes a situation where it's not going to end up good for you," said Wilmington coach Jeff Reents.
West added a 36-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Lytton on a wheel route, and Wilmington closed the scoring on a 37-yard run by Matteo Lombardi, who gained 166 yards on 23 carries.
"Our coaches put us in situations where if we go out and be successful and do what we have to do to win and just do what they tell us and practice hard during the week, it's easy on (game day)," Saunders said. "We've been doing it so regularly, and it's a good feeling."