PEMBERVILLE – Eastwood lived up to its ranking Friday night as the state’s top ranked football team dispatched Swanton 48-0 in the Division V regional quarterfinal. The Eagles had big plays in all three phases of the game with a punishing offense, long returns and a punt block on special teams, and two turnovers on defense.
Swanton started the game with the ball deep in their own territory following a personal foul. They did pick up a first down with a catch from Anthony Howard and run from Michael Lawniczak.
However, they were forced to punt from their own 19-yard line. A long return by Alex Ross set up the Eagles at the five-yard line.
It took two Jaden Rayford runs to get the ball in the end zone and Eastwood led 7-0 with 8:26 left in the opening quarter.
Swanton picked up another first down on the ensuing possession, driving down to their own 42 before being forced to punt.
The Bulldog defense stuffed Rayford and forced an Eagle punt. But, Swanton did nothing on their next possession and punted it back to Eastwood.
The Eagles, who had great field position all night, started at their own 48-yard line and began their most time-consuming drive of the night. The opening quarter ended with the Bulldogs down 7-0 and Eastwood driving.
Rayford scored from 6 yards out to give Eastwood a 14-0 lead with 9:35 to play until halftime.
Big plays allowed the Eagles to put the game out of reach by halftime.
Jake Pickerel hit Cooper Comes for a 69-yard touchdown pass. Then with the ball near midfield, Swanton fumbled the ball back to Eastwood. Rayford scored again and it was 28-0 Eagles with time winding down in the first half.
Eastwood then blocked a Swanton punt and Pickerel quickly turned the excellent field position into a 13-yard touchdown pass to Brody Patterson. Eastwood led 35-0 at halftime and the second half had a running clock.
The second half began with another big play as Comes returned the kickoff to the house for a 42-0 advantage.
Swanton did manage to drive down to the Eastwood 25 before an interception helped to ensure the shutout.
Overall, Eastwood outgained Swanton offensively 272-64 yards. Eastwood had 191 yards rushing and 81 passing while the Bulldogs had 42 yards passing and 22 rushing.
Swanton was 0 of 9 on third down conversions. The Bulldogs had two turnovers and Eastwood 0.
Rayford led the Eagles in rushing with 95 yards on 20 carries. Damron added 56 yards on eight carries.
Gage Pachlhofer led Swanton with 19 yards on five carries. Lawniczak was held to 15 yards on 11 carries.
With the loss, Swanton’s season comes to a close with a 7-4 record that included wins over playoff teams Wauseon and league champion Archbold. In his first season, Randy Kerns became just the third coach to lead the Bulldogs to the playoffs.
Eastwood will face Otsego, a team they beat 39-0 earlier this season, in the regional semifinal this Friday.