CAMBRIDGE SPRINGS - You wouldn't have blamed Eisenhower if it had this game circled on its schedule.
The Knights came into Friday night's contest against Cambridge Springs with the two teams locked in a first-place tie in Region 2, each sporting 4-0 records.
Eisenhower made sure it was the last undefeated team standing after defeating the Blue Devils, 21-14, on their Homecoming night at Baird Field.
The Knights (5-1 overall, 5-0 in Region 2) now control their own destiny, and wins in their final two Region games will assure them of an automatic District 10 Class A playoff berth.
Ike didn't waste any time jumping out to a quick start. After receiving the opening kickoff, a defensive pass interference call and a 39-yard pass from quarterback Rob Wilston to Jarrett Johnson moved the Knights quickly downfield. Alex Johnson rushed in from two yards out to make it 7-0 just 1:14 into the game.
The Knights would double their lead before the quarter ended. After a Carter Farrell interception gave them possession back, Wilston found a wide-open Bryce Garris in the middle of the field, and he scampered 64-yards for a touchdown.
The game slowed down from there. Eisenhower turned the ball over on consecutive possessions after a lost fumble and interception, and a short punt on its ensuing possession gave the Devils great field position.
Cambridge quarterback Devin Walker found Luke LeSuer in the end zone just before halftime to bring the score to 14-7.
The Blue Devils carried their momentum into the third quarter, and a long drive ended in game-tying touchdown, after Gavin Hohn fumbled the ball before pouncing on it in the end zone.
But Eisenhower fought back to regain the lead, driving from its own 27-yard line all the way down the field, ending with a one-yard touchdown sneak from Wilston.
Cambridge had an opportunity to tie the game once again, but failed to convert a fourth-and-eight from Ike's 11-yard line. A couple of first downs sealed the victory for the Knights.
"About three weeks in, we knew (Cambridge Springs would be the team to beat)," said Eisenhower coach Jim Penley. "Cambridge Springs is an awesome team. At the end of the day, in the playoffs, we've got to be able to win games like this. We just swept three tight games in a row on the road, against our top three region opponents, and two of them were Homecoming games. That's a hell of a thing for these high school kids. I'm really proud of these guys, and everyone involved."
The Knights will enjoy the win, but they know there is more work to be done. They won't be looking past Union City and Youngsville, their only two remaining Region matchups.
"Union City is a real physical team," Penley said. "Youngsville - I don't care what anybody says, that's a big rivalry, and those games will always be intense."
The Knights will have another test next week when they host Conneaut, who recently defeated a strong AAA General McLane squad.
Eisenhower-Cambridge Springs Stats
E-Alex Johnson 2 run, 10:46 (Grant Venman kick)
E-Bryce Garris 64 pass from Rob Wilston, 1:27 (Venman kick)
C-Luke LeSuer 24 pass from Devin Walker, :38 (Gavin Hohn kick)
C-Hohn fumble recovery in end zone, 1:19 (Hohn kick)
E-Wilston 1 run, 9:00 (Venman kick)
RUSHING-E-Wilston 20-58, 1 TD, Alex Johnson 13-31, 1 !TD; C-Colton Noble 30-130, Hohn 7-51, 1 TD, Walker 7-12, Zach Stafford 3-10.
PASSING-E-Wilston 6-23, 167 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; C-Walker 3-12, 45 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
RECEIVING-E-Garris 2-72, 1 TD, Tre Frank 2-48, Jarrett Johnson 1-39, Louie Head 1-8; C-LeSuer 1-24, 1 TD, Stevie Reisenauer 1-14, Noble 1-7.