EATON – Landon Eldridge let everyone know he was ready to play some football on Friday night.
The Greenville senior running back rushed for 215 yards on 19 carries and four touchdowns in leading the Green Wave to a 40-7 season-opening win on the road at Eaton Friday night.
Eldridge had rushing touchdowns of 29, 1, 55 and 6 yards in the game. He had three of his touchdowns and more than half of his total yards just in the first half.
“I did not expect to come out and score four touchdowns and rush the way I did,” said Eldridge, who missed his entire junior year due to an injury. He also missed the last five games of his sophomore year because of an injury, so it wasn’t hard for him to admit to being more than a little excited to be out on the field Friday night.
“I feel like I’m 100 percent and ready to go,” he said. “It’s definitely nice to come out here and get a win to start the season. It was amazing and I’m just so excited right now.”
Eldridge got the Green Wave rolling at the 7:37 mark of the first quarter with a 29-yard touchdown run to put GHS up 6-0. Ethan Flanery’s PAT was blocked. On Greenville’s next possession, Tyler Beyke connected with Marcus Wood for a 34-yard touchdown strike and the Wave had a 13-0 lead.
It was all Eldridge in the second quarter as he plunged into the end zone for a 1-yard score with 2:58 left in the first half. A quick three-and-out by the Greenville defense and the offense got one more chance before the break and Eldridge had his biggest run of the night for 55 yards and his third touchdown with 42 ticks left in the half. Eldridge unofficially had 143 yards rushing in the first half to go along with his three scores.
“Landon ran the ball well tonight,” Greenville coach Aaron Shaffer said. “It was impressive. For a kid that has battled through some tough seasons to come out here and have that kind of performance is definitely nice to see.
“I thought Landon saw the holes well and made some nice cuts too,” he continued. “He ran hard and ran out of some tackles early on which was nice. He had the long run of over 50 yards right at the end of the half which was impressive to see him pull away. It was just an incredible effort out of him tonight, but we know that it requires more than one to get it done. He’s the guy that gets the spotlight, but all our guys should feel good about the way we ran the ball tonight.”
When he wasn’t handing the ball off to Eldridge, Beyke had a plethora of other weapons to choose from including Wood, Di’Maurye Ewing, John Butsch and Tony Sells. Beyke even had a few carries for himself to the tune of 68 yards. Wood was his favorite receiving target with 6 catches for 108 yards and a touchdown. Ewing was the second leading rusher behind Eldridge with 20 carries for 103 yards and the Wave’s final touchdown of the game, a 6-yarder late in the fourth quarter.
“I knew this is what we were capable of,” Shaffer said of his offense’s performance. The Wave totaled 522 yards of offense against the Eagles. “You know you go on the road in Week 1 and you worry about whether you can come out and knock the nerves off and go play a little bit. I wouldn’t say it was something I would predict, but I thought we were capable of it. It definitely was a good performance tonight though.”
The defense did its job as well holding Eaton to under 100 yards rushing as a team. The Eagles did manage to find the end zone, however. Trailing 33-0 in the third quarter, Tyler Gregory burst to the outside and went 50 yards for a touchdown. He was the teams’ leading rusher with 49 yards on just three carries.
“It’s a good win for us,” Shaffer said. “It’s one week at a time though. We will enjoy this one for a few hours and then watch some film and be happy with the way we performed, but these kids and our coaches are hungry and they want to perform well every week.
“It was be exciting to go home for one under the lights at Harmon Field with a 1-0 record,” he continued. “We still have some hurdles to clear with school starting next week which presents a whole different challenge, but I’m real proud of the way the kids played and the coaches coached tonight. It is good to go home with a win.”
Greenville will host Stebbins in its home opener next Friday, while Eaton travels to St. Henry.
Greenville 40, Eaton 7
G: Landon Eldridge 29 run (Kick blocked)
G: Marcus Wood 34 pass from Tyler Beyke (Ethan Flanery kick)
G: Eldridge 1 run (Flanery kick)
G: Eldridge 55 run (Flanery kick)
G: Eldridge 6 run (Kick failed)
E: Tyler Gregory 50 run (Anna Black kick)
G: Di’Maurye Ewing 1 run (Flanery kick)
The Greenville senior running back carried the ball 19 times for 215 yards and four touchdowns in leading the Green Wave to a 40-7 win over Eaton Friday night
The Daily Advocate sports editor Skip Weaver can be reached at (937) 569-4316 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter at @skipweaver65.