The SoBoCo Eagles used some rugged defense and a big pass play on offense to edge the Eldon Mustangs by a 14-7 score on Friday night in Ashland.

The Eagles got a 74-yard TD pass from Spencer Taggart to Zane Safely on their first possession for a 6-0 lead that stood through halftime.

However, it was the defense that took a ‘bend-but-don’t-break’ approach to the game and held off the Mustang running game which made the difference.

The Mustangs had three long possessions in the first half, but came away with zero points, getting stopped by linebackers Tanner Smith, Cole Morris and the Eagles D.

In the third quarter, the defense provided the play the made the difference in the game.

Eldon quarterback Austin Kempker had the ball stripped from his hands as he was being tackled by a gang of Eagles. Cooper Mange was credited with the strip, Seth Mueller picked up the ball and ran it about 20 yards, untouched, into the end zone.

Jackson Sartain’s 2-point run made it 14-0.

However, Eldon came back with a 7-play 85-yard drive for their only score of the game and the final 19-minutes were a nail-biter as the Eagles held off one Mustang attack after another.

“We were in a real physical ballgame and I was really proud of how we kept coming back,” said Eagles coach Trent Tracy. “Eldon is physically one of the most punishing, toughest teams we play all year – but we hung in there.”

The Eagles passing game, other than the touchdown strike in the first quarter, was held in check by quick Eldon defenders who batted down three Taggart passes in the second half. While the SoBoCo offensive line protected Taggart, the Eldon defense hurried his throws downfield, leaving the Eagles to work to penetrate the Mustangs with the running of Tanner Smith, Colby Phillips, Jackson Sartain and Cooper Mange.

“They were a solid, tough defense,” Tracy said. “We did a good job on the attack, but got hurt with penalties or a sack that would set us back.”

In their final possession, while attempting to run the clock out, Sartain picked up a key first down to keep the ball away from the Mustangs. Still, the Eagles had to punt from their own 25-yard line with 16-seconds left and Eldon looking to block the punt.

But Brett Price’s snap was good and Sartain’s punt backed Eldon up in their own territory for one last desperation play by Kempker. But, again, it was the Eagles defense who tackled the Eldon quarterback behind the line of scrimmage in the game’s final play.

The Eagles play at Hallsville next Friday.