The Eagles returned the favor in 2013, as seniors John Oliver and Brandon Eagle combined to rush for 155 yards in the first half and the defense had two interceptions to start the season with a 27-10 victory on the road.
“I thought we started strong,” Etowah coach Dave Svehla, “and played hard on both sides of the ball.
Etowah (1-0) was ready to take advantage of a bad snap on Lambert’s first possession that led to an 8-yard punt and put Etowah in good shape. Five rushing plays later, Svehla faced his first big decision of the young season — attempting a fourth-and-inches in the red zone.
“We want our offensive line to know that we believe in them,” Svehla said. “We felt like we had a had a good situation up front and I thought our kids executed.”
A successful conversion gave Etowah first down, and Oliver cashed in on the next play with a 2-yard pass to Keith Gordon, but an official called an illegal substitution penalty, negating the touchdown. Three plays later, the Eagles scored from 1 yard out on fourth-and-goal.
The Eagles’ defense didn’t allow a first down until the second half, and another Lambert punt was answered with a bruising 28-yard run by junior Raishod Devezin. It would set up the game’s second score, a 3-yard pass from Oliver to Ben Rowell for a 14-0 lead after a quarter.
“I’m certainly glad we got ahead early and got the win,” Svehla said, “but we’re going to have to convert at a higher rate if we’re going to be successful the rest of the year.”
Etowah would be successful early in the second quarter, when Oliver’s fake to Devezin froze the Lambert defense and left the far side of the field wide open. The three-year starter at quarterback raced to daylight and a 45-yard touchdown.
Lambert (0-1) answered right back as Jarrett Wright broke tackles and raced 76 yards for a touchdown that awakened the Longhorns crowd. But an interception by Rowell stopped the momentum and the Eagles took a
24-10 lead into halftime.
“We didn’t throw the ball much (Friday), but we really wanted to establish the run,” Svehla said. “I thought all those guys that carried the ball ran hard. They were tough to bring down on the first tackle, and that goes back to the guys up front, giving them a place to run and putting us in short-yardage situations.”
Those situations didn’t matter much in the second half as the teams traded 40-yard field goals and played mostly in the middle of the field. Lambert had a final gasp in the closing moments, but an interception by junior Cory Burdett ended the threat.
“This was all we’ve been thinking about all summer, waking up at 7:30 a.m. and working out,” Engle said. “This is all we’ve been thinking about and we were ready.”