Stepp's 2023 Top 10 Games: No. 8

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Trophy Club Nelson 43, Haslet Eaton 36

November 3, 2023

Northwest ISD Stadium

Justin, TX

They often say in rivalry games you can throw the records out the window and in the case of this Week 11 rivalry game things couldn’t ring more true as 9-0 Byron Nelson got all they wanted and then some from a 4-4 Eaton squad that had nothing to play for except pride.

Eaton’s defense set the tone early as the Eagles forced a Byron Nelson turnover on downs on the game’s opening series. Eaton’s offense would take advantage of the good field position taking a 7-0 lead on a four-yard run from Chris Duharte. Byron Nelson’s offense would move the ball well on their second series of the game, but disaster would strike as on first and goal from the 14-yard line after a penalty, QB Tom Von Grote would complete a pass inside the five-yard line, but the ball was fumbled with Eaton recovering at the four.

Eaton would take a stunning 14-0 lead late in the first quarter as QB Noah Lugo would score on a ten-yard run capping off a ten-play 96-yard drive to put the Bobcats in their largest deficit of the season heading into the second quarter. It would take just one play into the second quarter for that lead to be cut in half by the Bobcats as QB Von Grote quickly led the Bobcats down the field capping an eight-play 75-yard drive with a twenty-yard scoring strike to Leo Almanza to make it 14-7 Eaton.

After forcing an Eaton punt, Byron Nelson would march right down the field again, this time tying the game at 14-14 on a twelve-yard run from Tucker James. Eaton would get a nice kickoff return on the ensuing kickoff and they’d march to the Byron Nelson 22, but the Eagles would turn the ball over on downs. Just two plays later, Eaton would benefit from another Byron Nelson mistake as DB Ben Self would pick off a Von Grote pass setting Eaton up at the Byron Nelson 42-yard line with 3:48 remaining in the first half.

Eaton would take the lead right before halftime as Noah Lugo would find Talan Holmes for a three-yard touchdown pass to give the Eagles a surprising 21-14 halftime lead.

Byron Nelson would set the tone with their defense to open up the third quarter as the Bobcats would quickly force an Eaton three and out to get the ball back trailing by seven. The Bobcats offense would march a dozen plays and 88-yards to tie the game at 21-21 midway through the third quarter on a one-yard touchdown run from David Kabongo. Eaton would have the answer as after another good kickoff return the Eagles would need just three plays to jump back into the lead as Lugo would score on a 39-yard touchdown run to put Eaton back up 28-21 with 5:15 left in the third quarter.

The lead wouldn’t last long as on the ensuing drive Byron Nelson would need just four plays to tie the game up as Von Grote connected with Pierce Dahlin for a 29-yard touchdown pass to tie the game up at 28-28 with 3:09 left in the third quarter.

The back and forth would end on the next series as with momentum squarely on the side of the blue and black, Byron Nelson’s defense would force an Eaton punt as the third quarter ended giving Byron Nelson the ball to start the final quarter in a 28-28 game.

Byron Nelson would keep the momentum on their side as Von Grote would cap a 74-yard drive with a twelve yard touchdown run to give the Bobcats their first lead of the game at 35-28 with just over nine minutes left in the game.

Eaton would punt on their next series, but the special teams unit did their job pinning Byron Nelson on their own seven-yard line. The Bobcats would go backwards on the series going three and out and punting from their own one-yard line. The punt went just 17-yards setting Eaton up with a drive starting in the red zone, looking to tie the game up with just 2:36 remaining.

Eaton would need six plays to score as with 1:23 left in the game Lugo scored on a two-yard run to make it 35-34, with nothing to lose as Eaton was eliminated from the playoffs head coach Ellis Miller elected to go for two and the lead and that gamble paid off as Lugo connected with Cage Berreth for the conversion sending the Eaton crowd into a frenzy with a 36-35 lead.

Unbeaten Byron Nelson was far from done as the Bobcats would get a huge 51-yard kickoff return from Landon Farco to set them up at midfield to start the drive. Byron Nelson wasn’t thinking three however as Von Grote connected with Tucker James for a 46-yard pass into the red zone and two plays later James would score from three yards out to give Byron Nelson the lead for good with 0:46 remaining. Von Grote would add the two point run for the final margin of 43-36 as Eaton’s last two desperation plays did not yield a miracle and Byron Nelson would finish with their first unbeaten season in school history.

Byron Nelson would go on to finish the season with their best ever record and deepest playoff run finishing 13-1 before losing to district rival Southlake Carroll in the regional finals, while Eaton finished a disappointing 4-5 and outside of the playoffs.

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