ROBESONIA — “Don’t get caught” coursed through Ethan Eisenberg’s mind.
The Big Spring quarterback, not renowned for his speed, lined up about 4 yards behind his center, took the snap and promptly bolted to the left edge of his line. Gifted a gaping hole, Eisenberg split the seam and turned on the afterburners, dashing 64 yards down the left sideline to the end zone with teammate and fullback Dillon Wakefield running right by his side.
“I think Dillon almost caught me,” Eisenberg joked, “but in the end, I scored.”
The score not only propelled the Bulldogs to a seven-point lead in the first seconds of the third quarter, but the designed quarterback scamper set the tone for what became an unforgiving Bulldog rushing attack in the second half of Friday night’s District 3 Class 4A first round matchup against Conrad Weiser, as Big Spring sped its way to a 49-35 upset of the No. 7- seeded Scouts.
It also etched the 2021 Bulldogs (8-3) into the Big Spring record books as the first team in program history to capture a district playoff win. Since 1956, Big Spring only made the district postseason once prior to Friday’s contest.
“I mean, we’re only the second team to ever make it to the playoffs for football,” Big Spring’s Tucker Lowery said, “and now, we’re the first one to ever follow through and win a district playoff game. So, no one else has ever done that. Here we are. It’s very special.”
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Outside of Eisenberg’s trip to pay dirt, Wakefield carried the workload out of the Big Spring backfield, running to the tune of 214 yards and three touchdowns across 23 carries. The senior workhorse didn’t find the end zone until two minutes left in the first half on a 3-yard burst, but capitalized on a bulk of touches in the final two quarters, pounding his way to additional scores of 31 and 11 yards.
Eisenberg also fit the bill in the passing department, connecting with tight end Connor Black for a pair of touchdowns. Black walked his way into the end zone untouched on a 64-yard pass to open Friday night’s scoring and later followed his big-play strike with a 6-yard grab in the back of the end zone in waning minutes of the third quarter as Eisenberg rolled to his right.
Eisenberg finished the first-round district bout with eight completions on 16 attempts for 220 yards and three touchdowns. The junior hit Caleb Massare on a 28-yard slant pass at the midpoint of quarter two for his second touchdown pass.
“It’s one of those things, we know we have guys that, if you want to take one away, the other one can step up,” Big Spring head coach Joe Sinkovich said, “and we’re lucky to have the athletes we have coming up through. And they’ve worked hard to get here.”
On the other side of scrimmage, Conrad Weiser (7-4) applied consistent pressure to the Bulldog defense. Dartmouth University commit Logan Klitsch went to the air on 51 attempts and threw for 398 yards. Klitsch hooked up with his favorite target Aanjay Feliciano on 13 occasions, three counting for trips to six. The tall-framed wideout struck for touchdowns of 39, 21 and 6 yards. He pummeled the Big Spring D for 174 receiving yards.
The Scouts gambled on several instances on fourth down, but the Bulldog defense stood tall. Lowery and Aaron Matthews also collected a pair of interceptions and the battle — or lack thereof — in the trenches pointed Big Spring’s direction, as the d-line wreaked havoc on Klitsch, forcing him out of the pocket on a plethora of plays.
Klitsch, who’s been hampered by an ankle injury for a good portion of the season, was forced to extend plays on a consistent basis. He sneaked in for a 2-yard run for the Scouts’ first score.
“The win, it’s just one of those things that these guys will have these memories forever,” Sinkovich said, “and, you know, continue to help build this program and keep it going.”
The first-round win pits No. 10 Big Spring against reigning 4A champion and No. 2-ranked Lampeter-Strasburg next week in Lampeter, Lancaster County. The Pioneers were the team to oust the Bulldogs in their other lone district postseason appearance in 2010, a 41-13 decision.
But now, the Bulldogs will celebrate and soak in the victory.
“I’m at a loss of words honestly,” Eisenberg said. “It was so awesome — just all the work we put in paid off.”