RUSSELL, Pa. – It wasn’t perfect, but Eisenhower came away with a shutout victory, 14-0, over visiting Saegertown Friday.
Eisenhower’s defense picked up right where it left off in 2020 as the Knights held the Panthers to just 147 yards of offense and racked up five sacks.
The offense was efficient in generating 351 yards, with 290 of those yards on the ground, but turnovers kept the Knights from putting the Panthers away early.
Rewatch the game here:
Eisenhower (1-0 overall, 1-0 Region 2) looked poised to put points on the board on the opening possession, but a Benji Bauer fumble gave the Panthers (0-1, 0-1) the ball on their own 30.
Later in the first quarter, Keegan Eckstrom broke free on a 61-yard run to put Eisenhower in the red zone, but Shawn Pascuzzi fumbled inside the 10 to end the scoring threat.
Pascuzzi made up for the fumble late in the first half when he scored the first touchdown of the season, an 11-yard run with 1:56 to play until halftime. Jake Venman’s PAT gave Eisenhower a 7-0 lead.
Saegertown threatened early in the third quarter.
The Panthers began the second half with a pair of negative plays, but on third-and-15 quarterback Henry Shaffer dumped a pass to Sully Zirkle on a screen pass. Zirkle made a move then raced 60 yards to the Eisenhower 10.
Zach Yoder took it down to the 8-yard-line on the following play, then the Eisenhower defense went to work.
Keenan Schaff was dropped for a 3-yard loss on second down and Shaffer was sacked by Drake Vanderhoof to push the Panthers back to the 15.
A false start forced a 4th-and-goal from the 20. Tucker Lindell got to Shaffer on fourth down for Eisenhower’s fifth sack of the game and a turnover on downs.
The Knights methodically worked their way down the field and Eckstrom capped the drive with a 3-yard plunge with 18 seconds left in the quarter.
Eisenhower went 75 yards in 12 plays and chewed more than six minutes off the clock.
The Panthers got the ball back with just under six minutes to play on their third fumble recovery of the game.
A fumbled exchange between Shaffer and Zirkle gave the ball back to the Knights with 3:45 to play and ran the clock out to seal the victory.
Eckstrom led the way with 11 carries for 127 yards and a touchdown and earned the Jim Kelly Player of the Game Powered by the Allegheny Grille of Foxburg. Benji Bauer ran for 66 yards on 14 carries and Shawn Pascuzzi had eight carries for 45 yards and a TD.
See Eckstrom’s postgame interview:
In his first start at quarterback, Garrett Jenson went 6-9 for 61 yards. Bauer had four receptions for 42 yards.
Both teams had issues holding on to the ball, with Saegertown losing one fumble and Eisenhower three. Two of the Knights’ fumbles came deep in Panthers’ territory.
Yoder led Saegertown’s ground attack with seven rushes for 59 yards. Zirkle had 105 total yards (26 rushing, 79 receiving).
Saegertown heads home next week for a Region 2 matchup with Iroquois (0-1, 0-1). Eisenhower travels to Union City (0-1, 0-1) for a Region 2 contest.