EU Football Debut: Eastern University football played its first home game: a Homecoming weekend scrimmage

By: Will Cunningham

Friday, Oct. 7 went down as a historical day for Eastern University. It was the first day in school history where fans gathered outside of O’Hara Field in the Valley Forge Military campus for a football tailgate. It was the first time where Eastern football players took the field in front of their home crowd, with fans giving loud cheers for their names. This was the very first home football game for your Eastern University Eagles.

To showcase the football experience to the people of Eastern, the Eagles hosted a Maroon/White scrimmage that split the team in half and played their guys against each other. This scrimmage provided players a game-like setting to prepare for entering conference play next year, as well as guaranteeing playing time for every athlete on the roster before then.

Normally, fans won’t see both teams don Eastern logos on their helmets and jerseys, share the same kicker and have their head coach stand on the field just behind the action. On top of that, no stats were recorded, nor was the game live streamed. There was announcing, but it was more of a practice session for sports information than a professional presentation. In other words, future games will be significantly more professional.

Regardless of these factors, Eastern students, faculty and alumni came out in numbers to support their newest addition to athletics by the hundreds. The tailgate crowded the entire roadside parking lot directly next to the field, and the stands on the side of the watchtower were over three-quarters of the way full by kickoff.

I talked to some students who attended the game and asked for their thoughts on the experience. Sophomore Josh Cruz, who is the RA of several of the players on the team, referred to his experience as “electric because it’s the school’s first football game.”

To support the efforts of a football setting, several athletic teams set up tables and sold merchandise, such as T-shirts and hats, while other coaches and staff ran a barbeque selling burgers, hotdogs, soda and other game day favorites.

The game itself featured some intriguing highlights. On the first play from scrimmage, wide receiver Eddie Swinton, upon catching a quick pass from under 10 yards out, blazed his way across the field for a 75 yard touchdown for the Maroon squad. The White team responded in kind later in the quarter, adding a touchdown on a two-yard carry from running back Al-Shukar Pressley.

After the first quarter, however, both defenses dominated, shutting down their opponents frequently in their own zone, including multiple three-and-outs from both sides. The only offense generated the remainder of the contest were three Maroon field goals kicked in by John Westfield.

Down by seven with under two minutes left, the White team had the ball and a chance to tie with a touchdown. However, an interception with 12 seconds left sealed the scrimmage. Maroon came out on top 16-9.

As joyful as the fan experience was that Friday night, students, faculty and alumni can expect the experience to improve for future games. The entire bleachers and watchtower will be redone, providing better seating for fans as well as a more quality tech setup when games are live streamed next year. The players will be more prepared and experienced to put on strong performances upon hitting the field next semester. Also, with the student population continually growing, there will be even more fans excited to cheer on their football team.

The Eagles have three games remaining this year after this scrimmage. Two of them will be on the road against JV teams: at Muhlenberg On Oct. 16 at 2 p.m. and at Stevenson on Oct. 30 at 1 p.m. After that, the Eagles return home for their first true home game in school history against ASA Brooklyn, who has recently relaunched their football program for the first time since 2019, on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 12 p.m.

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