In the past, this was the type of football game that Edinburgh would find a way to lose. It wouldn’t be able to run the ball effectively when needed, and it wouldn’t have come up with two defensive stops inside its 10-yard line.
The Lancers got those things on Friday night, along with a how-did-he-do-that touchdown grab by Caleb Dewey late in the third quarter, to hold on for a season-opening 15-12 victory over visiting Tindley.
It was the first time Edinburgh won its opening game since 2014.
“Dewey made a great catch in the end zone, like he always does,” Edinburgh coach Tyler DeSpain said. “Our running game was great tonight; that’s something that we haven’t had in the past.
“This is just a great feeling for these kids.”
The Lancers turned it over on downs on each of their first three possessions but didn’t end up paying any price. Colin Richardson recovered a fumble on Tindley’s first offensive snap, and a botched snap by the Tigers two drives later was covered up by Jarrett Turner.
That second takeaway set Edinburgh up at the Tindley 39 with 2:19 left in the opening quarter, and the Lancers converted a pair of fourth downs in marching to the 4-yard line by the end of the period. Two plays later, Riley Palmeter hit Turner on the left side for a 9-yard score, and Enrique Callejas’ kick gave the home team a 7-0 advantage.
Palmeter was intercepted by Darien Davis near midfield on Edinburgh’s next possession, and a 49-yard pass from Deon Richardson to Donovan Gilder on the next play set up a 3-yard scoring run by De’Vion Hampton, who had been stopped short on fourth and goal a little more than two minutes earlier. A botched PAT left the Lancers up by a point with 4:54 to go in the half.
An interception by Landen Burton gave Edinburgh a chance to pad its lead before halftime, but a 25-yard field goal attempt by Callejas caromed off the inside of left upright and bounced away.
After Dewey’s highlight-reel grab, an 8-yard TD at the 1:25 mark of the third, Tindley drove all the way down to the Lancers’ 6-yard line before stalling. Edinburgh tried to kill off some clock behind the running of Lennon DeLoach, who picked up a pair of first downs, but the Tigers came up with a stop on downs to regain possession at the Lancer 45 with 4:03 left in the game.
Gilder’s 20-yard reception set up a 1-yard TD run by Hampton with 2:55 to go, but the ensuing two-point run was stuffed by Turner and Edinburgh was able to eat up the remaining clock after DeLoach converted a key fourth-down run near midfield.
The senior finished with 91 yards on 18 carries, most of that coming in the fourth quarter.
“In the past, a team like this would have given up after they’ve given up another touchdown,” DeSpain said, “and it’s just another step in changing the program and making that confidence go up.”
Palmeter had an up-and-down night throwing the ball but finished 17 of 32 for 178 yards with three interceptions and the two touchdowns. Turner was the top target on the night, catching nine balls for 81 yards.
That output, along with a defense that made two big red-zone stops in addition to the two first-half takeaways, was enough for the Lancers to get the job done.
DeSpain noted that the team is running a new defensive scheme this year after working with Whiteland’s coaches in the offseason.
“It’s a different type of Edinburgh football with the defense that we have this year,” he said. “The kids love the (new) defense, and that’s what they do.”