Eagles start fast, top Tigers in county match-up

·5 min read

Aug. 27—ZIONSVILLE — Despite winning its season opener against Pike, the Zionsville football team wasn't happy with its slow start to the game.

They had no such problems in the home opener on Friday night against Lebanon.

The Eagles scored touchdowns on two of their first three offensive plays — both 50 yards or more — and shutdown their cross-county rivals 42-6.

"I was really proud of our guys," Zionsville head coach Scott Turnquist said. "Something we emphasized this week is coming out and executing what we practice and getting off to a fast start. Certainly, when your defense starts off the way ours did, and then you hit a big pass play, that's a big confidence booster for us. I'm really proud of the way our guys focused in that first quarter."

Lebanon got the ball to start the game, and went three-and-out. On Zionsville's first play from scrimmage from the 50, Christian Abney found Eugene Hilton on a 50-yard touchdown pass to get on the board.

The Tigers then went three-and-out again, and on the second play on the ensuing drive Christian Abney went 62 yards for a touchdown, putting Zionsville up four minutes into the game.

"Those first two scores, we had some mental mistakes on our back end," Lebanon head coach Jeff Smock said. "The rest of the story was the line of scrimmage. They dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides and when you do that, you get a score like tonight. Hopefully this is some good medicine for us moving into conference play and we can come in tomorrow and learn from it."

Zionsville made it 21-0 early in the second quarter, when Hanson Hinshaw capped a eight-play drive, scoring from three yards out.

The Zionsville defense took it from there.

The Eagles forced three-and-outs on Lebanon's first six drives, holding them to seven yards of offense.

"I am really proud of those guys and the coaches for having a great plan," Turnquist said. "More importantly, they were where they were supposed to be. We had a plan based on what we thought they would do, and really just hats off to our defense for playing the way they did. Not just smart, but playing physical and fast."

Things went from bad to worse for Lebanon to finish out the first half.

After another three-and-out, a Lebanon shanked the punt. Zionsville senior George Quandee alertly saw no one in front of him, picked up the ball and raced it into the end zone for the Eagles fourth score.

Three plays later, Luke Penola had a pick-6 to give Zionsville a 35-0 lead at halftime.

"Those are guys that have played a lot of football, have a good feel for the game and understanding of the things that could happen and are able to think on their feet," Turnquist said. "Those are great examples of what we work on with our guys. They just knew what they needed to do in the moment and went out and did it."

Lebanon had it's best drive of the first half in response, marching to the Zionsville 24 before turning it over on downs.

They got on the board on their first possession of the second half, when Landon Fouts connected with Trey Ries for a 12-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

Fouts was 18 of 33 for 142 yards.

The Tigers rushing attack managed just 30 yards on 19 carries.

"We couldn't get anything going in the running game," Smock said. "No question they were bringing some pressure and some twists and stunts, we just didn't handle it well. Pass protection wise, they took advantage of an inexperienced group tonight and we know we are a work in progress. We called them out at halftime, and I think they came out and gave us something in the third quarter we can build off of."

For Zionsville, Abney was 6 of 16 for 74 yards, along with his 62 yard rush.

Hinshaw had 71 yards on 11 carries.

The Eagles capped their scoring with a 37-yard touchdown reception from Nolan Teising.

The Eagles travel to Westfield next Friday night.

"We want to continue to build on what we have done the past two weeks," Turnquist said. "We want to have a great game plan and make sure the kids understand and can execute it. Against a great opponent, that is what you have to do. We know they are going to be ready to play and are excited for the challenge."

Lebanon hosts Danville in its Sagamore Conference opener next Friday.

Smock said the Tigers have to put Friday's loss behind them and get ready for a tough Warriors team.

"The biggest thing is that we are getting healthy and are getting a few guys back," Smock said. "Offensively, we just have to hold up in pass protection and give Landon time back there to create some lanes. Defensively, we really didn't play too bad, it's just a couple of mental mistakes with guys who know better. You take those first couple of scores off the board, and then maybe you can get moving a little bit. We just didn't complement each other very well tonight."

Will Willems is the Sports Editor of the Lebanon Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @Will_Willems.