By Mark Schmetzer, Enquirer contributor
If Hamilton harbored any hopes of snapping its long losing streak with a win at Lakota East Thursday, the Thunderhawks needed virtually no time to squash them.
Senior running back Bobby Brown broke free with a pitchout for a 52-yard touchdown on the second play of the game – just 24 seconds in – and Lakota East used two different ways to add two more touchdowns in the first quarter while rolling to a 34-13 Greater Miami Conference win over the Big Blue.
Junior linebacker Justus Zamarron returned a fumble for a touchdown and senior quarterback Eric Eichler connected with senior running back Nate Mays on a 45-yard touchdown pass to help the Thunderhawks (4-4, 2-3) take control early on their way to a second consecutive win after a four-game losing streak.
“It felt great,” Zammaron said of his first career touchdown. “I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have time to think about it.”
Eichler’s 63 passing yards by halftime were his single-game season high.
Junior running back David Chenault added a nine-yard scoring run and senior Nick Gasser contributed two field goals, including what according to the GMC website was a career-long 48-yard kick on the last play before halftime.
Brown gained 117 yards on 17 carries and Chenault added 105 on eight attempts as Lakota East piled up 385 yards of total offense, 309 in the first half. That skimpy second-half left Thunderhawks coach Rick Haynes a little perturbed.
“(Hamilton) played well and we didn’t,” he said. “We’ll have to improve on that if we want to compete over the next two weeks.”
Hamilton avoided a shutout as sophomore quarterback A’shon Riggins hit senior wide receiver Tyler Denton with a 21-yard touchdown pass with 3:23 left in the first half.
Senior running back Quintin Bailey added a 74-yard touchdown run with 3:12 left in the game for the Big Blue (1-7, 0-5), which saw its losing streak stretched to seven consecutive games since a season-opening win over Milford.
Play of the game: Zamarron’s 13-yard return of a fumble for Lakota East’s second touchdown of the game, which helped the Thunderhawks take a 14-0 lead with 5:40 left in the first quarter.
Star of the game: Riggins, who finished with 136 yards of total offense, 104 passing while going 14-of-25 and 32 rushing on 15 carries.
View from the sideline: First-year Hamilton coach Chad Murphy, the former Northwest coach, on the second half: “Small victories. That’s what we’re looking for – something to build on. It’s been a rough season Everybody knows that. Our defense played relatively well, and our offense moved the ball. We just didn’t score many points.”
Extra points: Lakota East is scheduled to go on the road to face Sycamore, the No. 5 team in the Enquirer’s Division I coaches poll, next Friday at 7:30 p.m. … Hamilton is due to face Princeton at at home next Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Hamilton 0 6 0 7 – 13
Lakota East 21 13 0 0 – 34
L – Brown 52 run (Gasser kick)
L – Zammaron 13 return of fumble (Gasser kick)
L –Mays 45 pass from Eichler (Gasser kick).
L – Chenault 9 run (Gasser kick)
H – Denton 21 pass from Riggins (pass failed)
L – Gasser 22 field goal
L – Gasser 48 field goal
H – Bailey 74 run (Morris kick)
Records: H 1-7 (0-5 Great Miami Conference), L 4-4 (2-3 GMC).