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Eagles lose turnover battle, game to Loyalton
First-half turnovers cost the Princeton High football team as it spotted visiting Loyalton a 22-0 lead in the first half, and the Eagles were unable to close the gap against the Grizzlies' stout defense, losing 28-6 on Friday.
The Eagles turned the ball over on four of their first five drives and Loyalton's bruising Cheyenne VonTour capitalized on three turnovers, punching the ball in for scores of 5, 7 and 18 yards.
"We were letting guys slip off blocks, turning it over and giving them the advantage," Princeton coach Bryan Lex said.
The first-half struggles were reminiscent of the team's 22-14 loss against Butte Valley on Aug. 31 when the Eagles took control of the second half after spotting their opponents a significant lead.
"Every time we play a good team we can't wait around for the second half to finally snap out of it," Lex said.
Princeton's first drive ended when a low snap forced punter Eduardo Valencia to scramble, but as he neared the first-down marker, a huge hit jarred the ball lose and Loyalton recovered on the Eagles' 29-yard line. Six plays later, VanTour gave the Grizzlies an 8-0 lead with a 5-yard run and caught the two-point conversion pass.
Oscar Espinoza returned the ensuing kickoff 48 yards to the Loyalton 40 and the Eagles moved the ball to the 18-yard line with a 10-yard run by Valencia and an 11-yard run by Espinoza, before the Grizzlies' Shawn McGee scooped up a fumble.
VonTour made it 14-0 after a missed two-point conversion on his 7-yard touchdown run. Espinoza returned the kick to the Eagles' 42 but Princeton went three-and-out and punted.
On Loyalton's first play after the punt, Gavino Mitchum intercepted a pass near the 50 and returned it to the Grizzlies' 14-yard line, but three plays later Tyler Davis intercepted his first pass of the day near the 5-yard line.
It took Loyalton 14 plays to march 80 yards, but VonTour broke four tackles and scored from 18 yards out for a 22-0 lead going into halftime.
Princeton's defense started the second half by forcing a turnover on downs and the offense took advantage of a 49-yard run by Espinoza when Mitchum went up the middle for a 1-yard touchdown.
Neither team scored until Davis tossed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jess Lane with 51 seconds remaining in the game.
"We need to find a way to come out in the first quarter ready to play, excited to play and not wait around to pull our heads out of the clouds," Lex said.
VonTour finished the game with 18 carries for 106 yards and three touchdowns for the Grizzlies, and Davis completed 10 of 15 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown.
Espinoza led the Eagles with 94 yards on 11 carries and averaged more than 25 yards on five kickoff returns. Mitchum ran for 19 yards and a touchdown, and returned and interception 36 yards.
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 458-2121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.