If you didn’t know about the great Cleve-Hill rushing attack heading into Saturday’s game, you certainly know about it now. The 1N seed Golden Eagles ran for 478 yards in their 52-21 win over the 1S seed Southwestern Trojans in the Section VI Class C Football Championship game. With the 478 rushing yards, the Golden Eagles now hold the Section VI stadium record for rushing yards in a game.
“Wow, (the record is) a great testament to our o-line,” said Cleve-Hill running back Matt Eldridge.
Eldridge, the Golden Eagles’ leading rusher this season, ended with 201 yards on 15 carries in the win.
The Golden Eagles were firing on all cylinders as they jumped out to a 32-0 lead in the first half. The Cleve-Hill defense started the game with a 3-and-out. On the ensuing drive, Eldridge took a handoff 41 yards for the first score of the game. QB Tyler Phillips led the way for Cleve-Hill in the first half as he ran for two touchdowns.
Phillips ended the game with 152 yards on only six carries.
But the Trojans weren’t going away. With three minutes left in the half, Southwestern got on the board as sophomore QB Cole Snyder found Alex Card for a 38-yard touchdown. The Trojans then successfully converted an onside kick. Snyder led the Southwestern offense down the field, this time finding Niko Pannes for 27 yards to make the game 32-14 at halftime.
Snyder went 14 of 24 for 152 yards and two touchdowns through the air in the losing effort.
“Snyder is a player that every time he steps on the field he wants to get better,” said Southwestern Head Coach Jehuu Caulcrick. “We told him going into the game to enjoy the moment and embrace it, that’s what he did.”
The Trojans decided to test their luck once again trying another onside kick to open the second half, but could not convert. Cleve-Hill took advantage of the great field position as Eldridge took it in from one yard out to end the drive and the Golden Eagles never looked back.
“It’s going to sting, but at the beginning of the year nobody had us here,” said Caulcrick. “The kids have a taste of this now, next year we have to go to work and get better.”
The win marks the seventh sectional title for the Golden Eagles, it’s first since winning back-to-back in 2012 and 2013.
“I’m so pleased and proud of our team. From the very beginning of the season we set this as a goal,” said Cleveland Hill Head Coach Glen Graham. “Now we get to play another week and see if we can accomplish another goal.”
Tyler Phillips was extremely happy after the game, but he wasn’t going to be celebrating this win for too long. “It feels great to be ‘one of the best’. Now we are looking to be ‘the best’,” said Phillips. “We’re looking for the dome.”
Next Saturday, Cleveland-Hill will come back to New Era Field as they take on Section V Champion Bishop Kearny at 12pm for the Class C Far West Regional Football Championship.