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The Eagles extinguished a 39-game losing streak with a thorough thumping of Narrows on Friday.
RICHARD SHUMAKER | Special to The Roanoke Times
Auburn coach Jack Turner reacts to an Auburn interception in the final moments of the 27-0 win over host Narrows on Saturday.
Saturday, August 31, 2013
Everybody calmed down eventually.
The giant receiving party that greeted the triumphant high school football team upon its arrival back at school did that, then made it home safely. The players talked to well-wishers and then went off to greet their dates and friends for the evening. Auburn High School’s road color football uniforms went in the washing machine.
The celebration had been going on for a while. People tend to get excited when 39-game losing streaks end. Perhaps that’s even more true when the streak ends with the good guys on the correct side of a whipping for a change.
The Eagles and their long-suffering but eternally loyal fan base had every reason to be fired up about Friday’s 27-0 season-opening skid-severing victory at Narrows.
Then it was back to work. Eagles coach Jack Turner had his fun, too, but for only a moment or two. More pressing issues had to be dealt with Saturday morning.
“If I don’t kill these moles in my yard, my wife is going to kill me,” said Turner, who wasn’t expecting any help with his wildlife control dilemma. “We need to get our cat out here killing some of these moles. I keep telling my daughter, don’t feed that cat. He’s fatter than me and eats better than me. It’s ridiculous. He needs to get after these moles.”
Not very long ago it would have been ridiculous to suggest that the Eagles were capable of getting after somebody in a football game the way they did Friday against the Green Wave, which has been having its own struggles. Auburn freshman running back Jeremy Nelson spearheaded a 360-yard rushing attack by averaging 14.8 yards per carry and scoring on a 54-yard run. Seth Cox chipped in 82 more rushing yards and another TD.
On the other side of the line of scrimmage, Auburn cleaned up better than lye soap.
“I’m going to tell you right now, the key to that game was our defense and special teams,” Turner said. “Our defense and our kickoff coverage and our punt coverage was outstanding.”
Only two players are left who go back four years in the streak that began in September of 2009. Quarterback Gabe Spencer and lineman Michael Hinkly were 0-30 career until Friday night. Spencer never lost faith.
“Honestly, I can tell you I never thought about quitting,” he said. “You could see the heart and desire of the guys in this program. I couldn’t walk away from that.”
Nobody around the program was talking about losing streaks, anyway. Ever since Turner took over last year, the focus was on getting better and stronger every day, simple as that. After that, it was just a matter of time before the corner could be turned.
“I really had confidence in our defense,” said Spencer, who has no responsibilities on that side of the ball. “Whenever we made a mistake here or there, the defense was there to pick us up. They really stepped up to the plate, especially inside the 30. They stopped them.”
Others allies had the Eagles’ backs as well. It’s a haul from Riner to Narrows, but Auburn supporters were there in force.
“The atmosphere they brought with them was just tremendous,” Spencer said.
Keep those cars gassed up, ladies and gentlemen. Auburn is on the road for the next two as well, Sept. 6 visiting that scrappy Craig County crowd then following up with a trip to Roanoke Catholic. Both the Rockets and Celtics won their openers.
First things first for Auburn, though.
“Now you bring your cat up here tomorrow morning,” Turner was saying to a caller, “and we’ll start working on some of these moles.”
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