Jim Ellis

Special to the Grove Sun

Jim Ellis

Special to the Grove Sun

AFTON — It wasn’t a work of art, but Afton still managed to glide to its ninth straight victory.

The Eagles needed a 65-yard interception return by Dusty Henry to seal their 37-22 victory over Porter here Friday in a District A-8 clash.

“Defensively, we played pretty well,” Afton head coach Zach Gardner said. “Offensively, we weren’t able to convert on some short yardage stuff and we gave the ball to them on a short field sometimes, but our defense was able to make plays.”

The Eagles allowed Porter to stay in the game by turning the ball over four times — all on interceptions.

“They used a 5-3 (defense) and stacked the free safety as an extra backer, kinda played without a free safety,” Gardner said.

“We didn’t know what we would see,” he said. “On the films we had seen, they hadn’t faced any throwing teams other than Fairland, and they are a little different attack mode than we are. Their skill kids are pretty gifted, some of the best in our district.”

A six-yard run by Nick Scarborough with 3:44 remaining pulled the Pirates to within a touchdown, 29-22. However, he was stuffed on the conversion attempt.

Henry’s interception runback came with 25 seconds left in the game.

The Eagles are poised to post just the fifth unbeaten season in school history. The others came in 1979, 1978, 1940 (9-0-1) and 1926.   

“We hope to carry the momentum on to the playoffs,” Gardner said. “Our goal has always been to go deep in the playoffs. Winning district is just part of it. You can go 9-0 and 10-0 and still not bad happy because you get beat in the first round like we’ve done in the past. We have to get over that hump.”

As long as they keep winning, the Eagles have a chance to host two, and possibly three, games.

“We just need to go play our game. Everything will take care of itself.”

Afton wraps up the regular season Friday with a non-district game at Yale.

The Eagles got a safety when Brooks Victor tackled Scarborough in the end zone at 9:37 of the first quarter.

However, Porter answered with a three-yard touchdown run by Marcus Scarborough. Nick Scarborough added the conversion.

Henry gave Afton the lead for good with an eight-yard run with 5:00 left in the first. Jake Mustain toed the extra point.

The Eagles then scored three times in just under six minutes to seemingly take charge.

Matt Wisdom had a one-yard run at the 2:17 mark of the first, then Fuser added TD runs of 11 and 23 yards in a 22-second span.

Mustain kicked the PAT on two of the three scores to balloon the score to 28-8 with 8:26 until intermission.

Tim Moore returned a Fuser interception 23 yards for a touchdown with 5:30 left in the half. Jacob Richardson caught a pass from Marcus Scarborough for the two-point conversion.

Neither team scored again until the fourth quarter, when Nick Scarborough got his six-yard run.

Marcus Bruner had 80 yards on 15 carries for the Pirates, who saw Marcus Scarbrough wind up with minus-38 yards on 11 carries.

Wisdom was the offensive and defensive leader for Afton. He rushed for 107 yards on 28 carries and logged 18 tackles and five sacks from his linebacker position.

Fuser chipped in with 115 yards on 15 carries. He was 6 of 15 passing for 56 yards while throwing the four interceptions.

Timmy Moore had two of the interceptions for the Pirates.

Henry caught three passes for 20 yards and ran the ball four times for seven yards.

Mustain caught two passes for 18 yards and Cecil Jones added one catch for 18 yards.

Victor and Mustain each had 11 tackles for Afton.

Zach Dodson, Jacob Atchison and Henry each had a fumble recovery. The Eagles had 12 sacks as a team.