By Gene Phelps
Special to the Gazette
ELLISTOWN – Senior guard Eli Hodges has been a player and a coach this season for East Union’s injury-riddled offensive line.
The Class 2A Urchins, playing without four starters on its offensive line, defeated visiting 4A Tishomingo County 48-10 Friday to improve to 3-1 overall on the season.
East Union’s offense produced a whopping 523 yards, including 361 yards rushing – 198 yards on 11 carries and one touchdown from Colton Plunk and 125 yards on 11 carries and two TDs from wingback Micah Fulgham.
Urchins sophomore quarterback Ty Walton completed 14 of 24 passes for 162 yards and four touchdowns.
“I’m proud of our offensive line,” East Union head coach Kevin Walton said. “We’ve got one original lineman. We’re just piecing our line together. We’re getting it done with what we’ve got.”
Hodges sees the line improving each week.
“It’s been a hard process, but we’re getting used to working together,” said Hodges, who starts at left guard. “There was one point this season where I had to tell every offensive lineman what to do. I had to learn all the positions.
“We’ve seemed to overcome. Everybody’s doing well.”
Joining Hodges up front are three former defensive players, senior tackle Kolby Gray, junior tackle Eli Pannell and junior center Jackson Hill. Sophomore Alejandro Valles plays guard.
“It was rough, but I knew we had some guys who would step up and play good football,” Hodges said.
Two injured starters on the offensive line – sophomores Josh Duley and Parker Rodgers – could return for this week’s home game against East Webster.
Plunk’s 79-yard touchdown run on the game’s second play gave East Union a 6-0 lead. Walton’s 27-yard scoring strike to DeJuan Hubbard made it 14-0.
A pass interception and 33-yard return by linebacker Edgar Zapata set up Walton’s first TD throw.
Walton’s 6-yard TD pass to Hayden Roberts gave the Urchins their eventual 20-3 halftime lead.
“I thought we did a really good job spreading the ball around, getting it to different receivers,” Kevin Walton said. “The RPOs looked really good. Ty did a good job reading the linebackers.”
Fulgham scored three second-half TDs on runs fo 9 and 69 yards, and on 10-yard pass from Walton.
“Fulgham did a good job running the ball,” Kevin Walton said. “Plunk ran the ball well, too. It’s good to have him back there. It makes it easier on our passing game.”
Hubbard’s third reception, a 21-yarder from Walton, came midway in the fourth quarter.