EUREKA - What started out promising did not deliver for Eureka. The Hornets recorded a takeaway just over a minute into Friday's Heart of Illinois Conference large division opener, but could not capitalize.
Meanwhile, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley bounced back and scored six unanswered touchdowns in a 41-12 victory at McCollum Field.
Jared Farney intercepted a Nathan Garard pass that Alex Brittain tipped at the line of scrimmage as the Falcons (2-0) were inside the Eureka 30. However, the Hornets went three and out on their initial offensive series.
In addition, on four occasions, GCMS had difficulty with the center-quarterback exchange, but the Falcons were able to maintain possession each time.
"There were two times when they recovered a fumble on the same drive and went into score," explained Hornets' coach Jason Bachman. "We made a big play early with the interception. We just did not sustain it and make enough plays."
Garard got the scoring started with a 24-yard TD toss to Ryland Holt with three minutes and 14 seconds left in the opening quarter.
Jared Trantina (17 carries, 105 yards) then went to work, as he found the end zone four times before intermission on gains of 16, nine, five and three yards, respectively. That increased the GCMS lead to 35-0.
"I thought we did a good job early on of stopping the run," Bachman said. "They big-played us. We felt if they completed some big plays, we knew we would be in trouble."
The Falcons finished with nine explosive plays (one that goes for 10 yards or more on the ground and 20 or better through the air), all of which came in the opening 24 minutes.
Eureka (1-1) got TD runs from sophomore receiver Aden Sears (one yard on a jet sweep) and sophomore quarterback Matt Martin (four yards) in the second half.
The Hornets were limited to just one first down and 27 yards of total offense in the first half, but found success against the Falcons' reserves. Eureka totaled 177 yards, 146 of which came on the ground. Another sophomore, Hunter Gladson, rushed 15 times for 66 yards. Martin added 54 yards on nine attempts.
"That's a credit to (GCMS head coach) Mike (Allen) and his staff. He played his sophomores. We played our sophomores although we had to start ours. We take every opportunity we can to get better. It was a good learning experience for our young kids," said Bachman.
GCMS finished with 270 yards of total offense. Garard completed five of seven passes for 126 yards. Bryce Barnes, who had an interception return for a TD to begin the third quarter, gathered in three receptions for 87 yards.
Notes: The Barnes pick six 50 seconds into the second half made the score 41-0, which triggered a running clock for the remainder of the way. According to Bachman, Brittain exited in the second quarter because of dehydration and did not return.
1 2 3 4
GCMS 14 21 6 0 = 41
Eureka 0 0 6 6 = 12
GCMS: Holt 24 pass from Garard (Ben Freehill kick)
GCMS: Trantina 16 run (Freehill kick)
GCMS: Trantina 9 run (Freehill kick)
GCMS: Trantina 5 run (Freehill kick)
GCMS: Trantina 3 run (Freehill kick)
GCMS: Barnes 26 interception return (kick failed)
E: Sears 1 run (kick failed)
E: Martin 4 run (kick failed)
First downs 14 10
Total Yards 270 177
By Rushing 144 146
By Passing 126 31
Comp-Att-Int 5-7-1 3-16-1
Fumbles-lost 4-0 0-0
QB sacks-Yards lost 0-0 0-0
Punts-Average 1-29 4-34.8
Penalties-Yds 5-24 7-55
Time of Possession 22:54 25:06
RUSHING (carries-yards) GCMS: Trantina 17-105, Garard 5-16, Isaiah Chatman 3-14, Aiden Laughery 3-11, Payton Kean 2-3, Nathan Kallal 1-minus 2, Daniel Jones 1-minus 3, E: Gladson 15-66, Martin 9-54, Jonah Hahn 4-15, Sears 2-7, Asher Wiegand 1-4
PASSING (completions-attempts-interceptions-yards) GCMS: Garard 5-7-1-126, E: Martin 3-15-1-31, Hahn 0-1-0-0
RECEIVING (catches-yards) GCMS: Barnes 3-87, Holt 2-39, E: Hahn 1-14, Reuben Roberts 1-11, Brittain 1-6
PUNTING (attempts-yards-average) GCMS: Freehill 1-29-29, E: Hahn 4-139-34.8
Interceptions GCMS 1 (Barnes), E 1 (Farney)