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Returning to health and form, Windham wins second straight

Returning to health and form, Windham wins second straight


By Tom Nader

Publisher and Editor


Carlos Bruton runs in a third-quarter touchdown on Friday night.
Tom Nader/Portage Sports

The preseason optimism is returning to Windham.

Back in July, the Bombers boasted a larger roster, celebrated strong attendance for off-season workouts and were trending toward an exciting start to the season.

And they were healthy.

Then, suddenly, they weren’t healthy.

Injuries landed on key players, crippling the start of the season for the Bombers and influenced their 0-3 start.

The Bombers are back on the rise, though.

Two wins in the last two weeks prove that, including Friday’s 29-6 victory over St. Thomas Aquinas at Ed Liddle Field in Windham on Military Appreciation Night.

“We have a lot to clean up and a lot to work on, but we are getting there,” Windham head coach Jake Eye said. “We are working our way back to being healthy, but we are starting to look more like ourselves and what we thought we could be at the beginning of the season. The only way we can get there, though, is to work hard and clean up our mistakes.”

Friday’s triumph over the Knights was not void of errors, most notably eight fumbles for the Bombers, with two lost, but there was plenty of momentum for Windham.

Windham football head coach Jake Eye talks to his team during a second-half timeout.
Tom Nader/Portage Sports

After a first quarter described by Eye as “sloppy,” the Bombers came to life in the second quarter with a pair of touchdown runs by Jack Eye.

The first came with 5:05 left in the second quarter and from 6 yards out. Carlos Bruton ran in the 2-point conversion to give Windham, which is now 2-3 overall, an 8-0 lead.

Windham doubled its lead just before halftime, scoring with only 17 seconds remaining on a 1-yard dive by Eye, who then also ran in the 2-point conversion for a 16-0 Bombers advantage.

Eye finished the game with 154 yards rushing on 21 carries (7.3 yards per carry) and rarely was brought down by first contact. In fact, Eye, who played in just his second game after a fracture to his hip in the team’s final preseason scrimmage, repeatedly broke free from the first wave of tacklers to gain yardage after contact.

“Jack is still not back to full strength, but he is working his way there,” Jake Eye said. “He is a big, strong kid, and he plays hard. He is playing himself back into shape, and he worked hard tonight.”

The third quarter is where the Bombers put the game out of reach.

Back-to-back touchdowns, less than 2 minutes between each other, by Carlos Bruton put Windham in comfortable control.

Windham junior running back Jack Eye prepares for contact from a St. Thomas tackler.
Tom Nader/Portage Sports

Bruton’s first score came on a 4-yard run at the third quarter’s 7:20 mark. On the punt by the Knights on their next possession, Bruton fielded an awkward bounce and his own 31-yard line, made a couple of direct cuts, then raced down the left sideline for a 57-yard punt return.

The two touchdowns by Bruton extended the Bombers’ lead to 22-0, then again to 29-0 and his punt return added a spark of electricity to the stadium.

“Carlos is electric when he has the ball in the open field. He is hard to tackle,” Jake Eye said. “He is, by far, the best athlete on our team, and what makes it even better is that he is an incredible kid.”

Bruton also had a big game on the ground, with 99 yards on only 12 carries (8.25 per carry) on a night that the Bombers rushed for 259 yards as a team.

The defense had some spotlight moments for the Bombers, too, starting with the fact that the Bombers kept St. Thomas in the negative in rushing.

Bombers running back Jayquon Smith pulls out of a tackle during Friday’s fourth quarter.
Tom Nader/Portage Sports

In the Knights’ nine running attempts, they finished below zero with negative-four yards.

Also, after St. Thomas had three first downs in the first quarter, its fourth first down did not come until the 3:04 mark of the fourth quarter, breaking a 30-minute stretch in the game that they did not reset the downs with a first down.

The only touchdown by St. Thomas came on the ensuing kickoff by the Bombers following Bruton’s punt-return score. Nick Allen took a short kick, made a couple of inside moves, then bubbled his return to the left sideline and scored on a 69-yard kick return.

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