Mother nature’s lightning display may have caused a delay in Clermont Northeastern’s 14-0 win over the Eastern Eagles this past weekend, but it couldn’t stop the Rockets’ defense from bringing the thunder.
CNE’s defense shut down the Eagles, and extended the team’s scoreless streak to eight quarters defensively to start the season. Head coach Jeremy Fishback said that the players stepped up their play when the game resumed Saturday night.
“They came out and they played better today than they played last night,” Fishback said.“I kind of challenged them a bit and they stepped up to the challenge. It wasn’t as good as I’d like to see them, but I have to remind myself it’s just week two.”
Early on, it looked like both defenses were going to put on a show. CNE had trouble getting the rushing game going throughout the first half.
Passing led to the team’s first score. Quarterback Dylan Gilley connected with Gavin Hickey on a 29-yard touchdown pass to give the Rockets a 7-0 lead near the end of the first quarter.
CNE almost made it 14-0 on the next drive. Matthew Jenkins intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown, but a block in the back negated the score. That was a theme throughout the game for the Rockets, as the team lost a trio of scores due to penalties. Fishback said the team will look at what they need to correct.
“We lost three of them because of little mental errors,” Fishback said. “Those are things that we’ll definitely address in films. Week two, working the kinks out. We’re all getting on the same page, so we’ll clean those things up and start executing like a well-oiled machine.”
CNE’s defense kept the Eagles at bay until late in the first half, when lightning flashing caught the eye of an official, prompting a delay.
The game was scheduled to resume one night later, and after an hour-long delay for a different storm the Rockets picked back up where they left off defensively.
The Rockets’ run game also improved in the second game, and Fishback said the team made a few changes due to the youth on the offensive line.
“We had to make a couple changes,” Fishback said. “They had some young guys out there blocking on the line. We lost a couple big guys from last year, we’ve made some mental mistakes. They’re getting there, and they’re going to contribute from now until the rest of the season.”
CNE scored a second touchdown on a three-yard run by Cole Joslin. The Rockets nearly added a late score by Hickey, as he picked off a pass and scored late in the period. It, too, was called back due to a penalty.
With the win, CNE’s defense has not allowed a point through two games. Fishback credited assistant coach Steve Thompson with the way the team has played to start the year.
“They have took on a lot of adversity,” Fishback said. “I have to give credit to Coach Thompson, he’s a student of the game. He studies it. He’s also a history teacher for us here, so he studies a lot about the history of football. He’s put a lot of hours in and a lot of sleepless nights. I’ve got to give credit to him for his gameplan and his scheming.”
Fishback added that he felt the team does a good job following what Thompson is trying to do.
“The kids come out and respond to him,” Fishback said. “They’re taking on the challenge.”
CNE forced several turnovers throughout the game, something Fishback said the Rockets hope to do every time they take the field.
“We set goals, and the goals are to force a minimum of three turnovers,” Fishback said. “Flying around, 11 hats to the ball. That’s going to be a theme for the whole season. Hopefully we can stay on path, keep everybody healthy. Numbers are down, but I think we’ll be OK.”
The Rockets hit the road for the first time this season in week three when they travel to Batavia to take on the Bulldogs. Both teams enter the game 2-0 on the season.