HAMILTON – Eupora lost its first division game this season, but a bigger loss could come out of the 32-6 defeat.
Starting running back Vandy Smith suffered an injury to his left leg during the Eagles first offensive drive of the game.
The injury sidelined Smith, but Eupora was able to finish the drive by picking up a touchdown when Trey Pittman connected with Devin Simmons in the middle of the field.
The Eagles led 6-0 with 6:25 left in the first quarter, but with Smith sidelined, the Eagles couldn't seem to find an offensive rhythm.
"He's our bell cow," said Eupora head coach Junior Graham. "On the offensive side of the ball, and probably the defensive side too he's our best player."
Smith's injury isn't the first the Eagles have dealt with this season as quarterback Jamal Roby is out for the season with a broken bone.
"We're at the point where we can't replace those guys," said Graham.
Even though the offense was struggling, the Eagles were not out of the game as they only trailed 13-6 at halftime. However, turnovers would change things quickly.
After a turnover early in the second half, Hamilton's Deion Howard made an impressive 46-yard run to the end zone where he was almost brought down by the Eagles, but due to him landing on a Eupora players back and continuing to move his feet, he picked up the score.
The Eagle offense took the field after Howard's long run, but another turnover would end the drive, but this time Eupora's defense wouldn't touch the field as Hamilton's Zarrat Sims returned the interception 57 yards for the touchdown.
"The turnovers at the start of the second half just broke our back," said Graham.
Hamilton won the turnover battle 8-1 by intercepting six passes and forcing and recovering two fumbles.
The Lions improved to 9-1 overall, 2-0 in region play this season and the injury plagued Eagles fall to 4-3 overall, 1-1 in the region.
"We're dipping down and having to play in the freshmen and sophomore classes and these guys (Hamilton) were seniors," said Graham. "Their skill guys played a lot more physical than what we did."