The way things were going, East Meckenburg's football team didn't look like it was going to beat Vance with an overpowering offense Friday night.
So head coach Greg Hill challenged his Eagles to win the game with everything else they had. The result: a 2-0 start to the season after an 18-7 victory over the visiting Cougars.
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Freshman placekicker David Marvin kicked three field goals, two in the second half, to help East Meck keep an early lead. And the Eagles defense didn't allow Vance much of anything after the Cougars' only score of the game, a 65-yard run by senior quarterback Gary Lewis in the first quarter.
“The kicking game and the defense responded to some key situations for us; otherwise it would have been a long night,” Hill said. “They (Vance) have some good athletes, so it never felt like we had a really safe lead.”
It looked like it might be different early on, as the Eagles grabbed a 9-0 lead in the game's first 9 minutes.
They scored a safety on Vance's first possession when Cougars punter Cory Dennis kicked the ball through his own end zone after chasing down a high snap from center. And they drove 54 yards for a score after the ensuing free kick. Quarterback Olen Little threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Anderson.
But Lewis scored for Vance (0-1) on the first play from scrimmage after the kickoff, eluding the Eagles' pass rush and finding an opening down the left sideline for the 65-yard touchdown run.
From that point, it was a duel of field position, with Marvin's precision placekicking keeping East Meck in control.
He drilled a 30-yarder on the last play of the first half for a 12-7 lead at intermission, and added one from 29 yards in the third quarter and a 31-yarder in the last minute of the game.
“The field goals were really big for us,” Hill said. “It kept them in the position of having to go for touchdowns instead of three points. I think we have some work to do on offense, but it was good to come away with the win.”
Senior running back Elgin Counts rushed for 133 yards on 19 carries and Austin Stewart carried 15 times for 89 yards for East Meck, which plays host to Mallard Creek in a battle of unbeaten teams on Friday.