Vienna-Goreville rolled to a 44-12 Black Diamond Conference win over Christopher/Zeigler-Royalton in the season opener for both clubs on a scorching-hot afternoon last Saturday. The Eagles benefited in large part from five interceptions from CZR junior quarterback Bryce Pratt.
Despite the loss, the Bearcats, who were winless a year ago, have cause to be optimistic.
The Cats showed a much-improved ground game and the passing attack, despite the interceptions, was a force at times. There were several nice drives. The offensive line was especially strong. The defense held up quite well, especially when not placed at a disadvantage resulting from turnovers.
Bearcats coach Anthony Hargrove was upbeat and encouraged after the game.
"Walking off the field, all the Vienna coaches were complimenting us, saying it was a big turnaround from last year," he said.
Vienna-Goreville opened the scoring at the 6:26 mark of the opening quarter on a 14-yard run by Logyn Frassato. The extra-point attempt was blocked.
A mere 16 seconds later, the Eagles scored again when Aiden Kuhn intercepted a pass and returned it 39 yards for the score.
The two-point conversion failed and the first quarter ended with the Eagles up 12-0.
Vienna/Goreville added another score with 9:17 left in the second quarter on a seven-yard run by Brendan Dahncke. He added the two-point conversion and the Eagles increased the advantage to 20-0.
CZR got things going with 5:42 left in the half on a sparkling 13-yard run by Caleb Davis. The two-point attempt failed and the two teams headed to their respective locker rooms, corners of the forest rather, with the Eagles holding a 28-6 advantage over an energized Bearcat team.
The Cats turned that energy into a forced turnover that Gabe Motsinger turned into a nine-yard touchdown return. The pass conversion failed, but the deficit had been cut to 16 at 28-12.
The Eagles would add two more touchdowns to account for the final margin of victory.
CZR accumulated 150 yards on 28 carries and added another 120 yards through the air.
Quarterback Bryce Pratt accounted for all 120 yards through the air on 27 attempts.
Motsinger led the ground attack for CZR with 51 yards on four carries.
Six different Bearcats had receptions led by Jason Cole with 37 yards on one catch and Christian Shadowens with 31 yards on four receptions.
Vienna/Goreville picked up 386 yards on 48 attempts and added another 45 yards through the air.
Kuhn led Vienna/Goreville with 75 yards on 11 carries. Frassato added 64 yards.
Kyle Vancleve had 45 yards on two receptions for the Eagles.
Next up for the Bearcats is a visit to Carmi-White County this Friday.
Hargrove indicated that practices this week would focus on stopping the run.
"Carmi is going to be the same (type of team) we saw tonight... line up three backs in the backfield and run right at you."