Gary Weaver gathered in the ball on his own 45-yard line, scanning the field as he searched for the best route to run.
After finding a hole and breaking a couple tackles, Weaver sprinted over the goal line, capping off a 55-yard punt return for a touchdown.
The score gave Weaver his second touchdown of the game, and continued a dominating performance on offense in the Golden Eagles’ 20-10 win over Penns Valley.
Eagles coach Jason Wilson explained after the game that Weaver’s punt return served as a key moment in the game for his squad.
“That’s a big momentum (booster), to be able to get a special teams big play,” he said.
Along with his 55-yard dash, Weaver racked up 145 yards on just 18 attempts during the game, an impressive performance for any player, but especially impressive for a running back/defensive back playing with only one good leg.
Wilson did not plan on using Weaver as much as he did, instead seeking to limit his playing time given his injury troubles this season. Weaver had played in just four of the Eagles’ first eight games this season.
“We wanted to try to keep them a little balanced,” Wilson said following the game. “We planned on using him some for more downhill running.”
His first score of the game came on a four-yard plunge into the end zone on the Eagles’ second drive of the game, and responded to a Rams field goal a drive earlier. The Eagles added another touchdown, courtesy of a 41-yard screen pass from Parker Mitchell, before the first half ended, giving them a 20-3 edge after the opening 24 minutes.
Marcus Woodford booted the field goal from 30 yards out to give the Rams their first score.
Mitchell hauled in nine passes during the game for 142 yards, and was responsible for all but one of Eagles’ quarterback Denver Light’s 10 completions.
The Eagles failed to add to their lead in the second half, but their defense held firm, limiting the Rams to a touchdown by running back Ryan Ripka midway through the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 20-10.
The win keeps the Eagles (5-4, 4-3 Mountain League) alive in their push for the playoffs.
The Rams, meanwhile, fall to 2-7 overall and 2-5 in the Mountain League.
Despite the undesirable outcome, Rams coach Martin Tobias was encouraged with his team’s performance.
“I thought we played like a team that wanted to come out and prove something,” he said after the game. “The kids were ... they were pretty solid.”
The Rams benefitted from several turnovers from the Eagles, including a pair of interceptions and a fumble from Light. The Rams could not carry the momentum from these turnovers into offensive production however.
On the flipside, the Eagles had their offensive momentum crumbled by some miscues by Light — the result of growing pains, according to Wilson.
“That’s learning,” he said. “It’s all part of the learning experience of being back here.”