By Garrett Willis
CANTON – The Canton Eagles and Mineola Yellowjackets each came into Friday night’s game looking to improve their record to 2-1 in district play, and move one step closer to a playoff berth. After a closely contested first half, the Eagles pulled away late, picking up the 49-35 win.
Mineola got the opening kickoff, and on their first drive of the game the Yellowjacket offense lead the ball down to the 47-yard line, where they were faced with a 2nd and 13. The line broke down, which forced freshman quarterback Jeremiah Crawford, to scramble outside where he was met by sophomore linebacker John Cade for the sack.
Just two plays later, Canton had the football at the 28-yard line. On only the third play of the game for the Eagles offense, quarterback Chandler Eiland found senior receiver Jarred Grace for a 23-yard gain. On the very next play, Eiland found Denbow for a 49-yard touchdown, giving Canton a 7-0 advantage. It didn’t take long for Mineola to respond, scoring on a 5-yard touchdown run by senior running back Rhett Self, tying it up 7-7.
On the second play from scrimmage for the Eagles, Eiland found senior receiver, Ryan Slider for a big gain of 34-yards. After a 5-yard run and an incomplete pass, Eiland connected with Slider again this time for 21-yards. On the next play, Eiland found Denbow in the end zone for the 11-yard TD.
Mineola chewed up over six minutes on the clock on their next possession, but the long series ended with a 7-yard touchdown run by Jeremiah Crawford. But during the PAT, Ryan Slider came quick off the edge and blocked the kick, making it 14-13 Canton still in the lead.
Canton wasted no time on their next series, getting things done through the air, scoring on an Eiland to Slider 68-yard touchdown.
Ryan Slider would finish the game with 140 receiving yards on 4 catches and 2 touchdowns. After Scott Munroe made the extra point, it was 21-13 Canton still ahead. Mineola looked to move the ball downfield on the next drive, but Ryan Slider intercepted his third pass of the season, giving Canton great field position.
Two plays later, Chandler Eiland threw an interception himself that was returned for a touchdown, and after a successful two-point conversion attempt it was tied at 21-21.
Even with that interception, Eiland still put up big numbers, throwing for 451 in the air and ran for 54 on the ground and 7 total touchdowns. With only seconds left, the Eagles offense started on the 30-yard line.
The Eagles moved the ball quickly and efficiently having 13, 17 and 38-yard gains, the drive ended in a 6-yard Eiland touchdown run. After the PAT, the score was 28-21 Canton clinging to a 7-point lead heading into the locker room.
The Eagles started out things rough in the second half, the offense forced into a three-and-out, but luckily the Eagle defense forced the same to Mineola. After Eiland threw to Wiggins for a 10-yard pass completion, sophomore running back, Jordan Jackson carried the ball for 8 and 17-yard carries.
Jackson would end of the night with almost 50 yards rushing. Several plays later, Slider hauled in another touchdown catch from Eiland, this one for 17 yards, putting Canton on top by two touchdowns.
Canton’s next offensive possession would end in a punt on a 4th and long, giving Mineola the football on Yellowjackets’ 5-yard line. Mineola ate up 4 minutes of the fourth quarter, and resulted in a 2-yard touchdown run to cut the Eagles’ lead to seven.
On a big third down for the Eagles, Eiland found Jerrod Grace running down the sideline for a 53-yard gain. Eiland would finish the drive with a 20-yard touchdown run, extending the lead to 42-28.
Jeremiah Crawford and the Mineola Yellowjackets seemed to have a rhythm going after completing a pair of 10-yard passes, but after three incompletions in a row, the Yellowjackets were forced to punt.
With only 3:37 to go in the fourth, Eiland found Denbow in opposing territory, a big gain of 55 yards. Two plays later, on a 2nd and 5,
Eiland scored his third and final rushing TD of the game. Mineola would get the ball back and eventually score, but it would be no use. Canton won its second district game of the season, 49-35.
Mineola’s Rhett Self had 34 carries for over 200 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Garrett Denbow led the receiving game for Canton, hauling in 5 catches for 157 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Canton will travel to Brownsboro, which is currently 0-3 in district play, for their last road game of the season. Canton will return home the following week, Nov. 8, to close out the regular season with a game against the rival Van Vandals.