STEWART, Ohio-Mother Nature wasn't the only one raining on Federal Hocking Friday night as TVC Hocking Division rival Eastern came to town and dealt the Lancers a heartbreaking 25-23 setback on senior night.
For the Eagles, now 6-3, the win kept their slim hopes of reaching the postseason alive while the two-point loss ruined any chance Federal Hocking had of making the playoffs. Eastern will play host to Southern in its regular season finale on Friday while Federal Hocking travels to Trimble.
Eastern wasted little time lighting up the scoreboard. The Eagles defense forced a three-and-out by the host Lancers on their opening possession and a 37-yard punt by Federal's Peyton Seel gave the visitors a first-and-10 at their own 26.
One play later, however, the Eagles were on the scoreboard when senior quarterback Joey Scowden dropped back and found a wide open Chase Cook behind the Lancers' secondary and the junior tight end rambled 74-yards for the game's first six-pointer.
Eastern continued its trickery on the point after attempt as Scowden, who was serving as the holder, hit senior Troy Gantt with the two-point conversion pass.
Federal Hocking finally got its offense untracked on the Lancers' third possession of the first 12 minutes, but the nine-play, 50-yard drive stalled out on the Eastern 20 with 2:24 left in the opening quarter.
This time the visitors would go to the ground for the next big play of the game as senior Ethan Nottingham took the pitchout on first down and rambled 70 yards before being pulled down at the FH 10.
The hosts' defense stiffened, however, and forced the Eagles to attempt a 30-yard field goal by Max Carnahan, which sailed over the crossbar for the three points and an 11-0 lead with 58.3 seconds left in the opening period.
In what would be a repeating theme of the night, as the Lancers' again marched into Eastern territory on its next possession only to turn the ball over on downs at the visitors' 27. However, a three-and-out by the Eagles and a 30-yard punt by Carnahan gave the hosts a first down at their own 44 with 5:39 left until the intermission.
Four straight rushes by junior Delbert Crum, who finished with 162 yards on 26 carries, netted nine yards. Facing a second-and-13 at the Eastern 47, head coach Phil Hoffman elected to give the ball to his junior running back one more time with the result being a 47-yard scoring run that finally broke the scoring ice for the Lancers.
Terrance Mayle's PAT cut the deficit to four, 11-7, with 3:22 showing on the clock.
But, the big plays were not over for Eastern as on its final possession of the first half, Scowden, who completed only 5-of-12 attempts for 202 yards, found Alex Amos for a 66-yard scoring strike on a third-and-2 play from the Eastern 34 with 95 ticks left on the clock.
The two teams traded safeties to open the second half and Eastern took what appeared to be an insurmountable 25-9 lead on Scowden's third touchdown pass of the night-31 yards to Carnahan. But, the Lancers were far from done.
A fumble recovery gave the hosts a first-and-10 at the Eagles' 12 with 6:03 left in the game and senior Andrew Smith pulled the hosts to within 10, 25-15, on a 12-yard touchdown run with 5:55 left in the game. Senior quarterback Kyle Jackson then hit Smith for the two-point conversion to make the deficit eight, 25-17.
The hosts were back in business less than a minute later and this time Jackson found Smith again-this time from 21 yards out to cut the margin to two, 25-23, with 3:57 showing on the clock. However, the Lancers' signal-caller slipped while running for the would-be game-tying two-point conversion.
That would be as close as the hosts would get as Eastern's offense was able to run out the clock.