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ERIE — Erie senior Caleb Theisen was lost in a mosh of tacklers. Just for a moment.

Exploding out of it like a shooting star, a stature he is quickly acquiring, the Tigers’ next do-it-all running back was off to the races.

Theisen and touted sophomore quarterback Blake Barnett made a track meet out of their home opener against Pueblo East, using long, dazzling rushes to push past the Eagles, 29-7, on Friday night.

Following a strong lineage of next-level rushers to come out of the school — cue Noah Roper, Mason Veve — Theisen had more than 175 yards from scrimmage and his showcase 60-yard run broke a 7-all tie in the second quarter and was the start of 22 straight points to close the game.

Barnett, the program’s intriguing 6-foot-2 dual-threat quarterback, added more than 100 yards on the ground and had TD runs of 68 and 21 yards. It was the sophomore’s third career game over the century mark on the ground and his first this season after needing only two rushing attempts in a 64-14 win over Hinkley last week.

Barnett also threw for around 160 yards and a score.

The standout pairing helped the Tigers improve to 2-0 on the fall season thanks to another blowout win. It also gave Erie’s first-year coach Jeff Giger his 101st career win after the program’s Twitter handle announced his 100th last week.

Giger’s strong start comes after a prosperous coaching stint from Chad Cooper, who took an administrative role at the school. The new coach’s resumé includes two state titles at Strasburg before he went to Brighton and led the Bulldogs to successive winning seasons in his two years.

In a game buffered by penalties, Erie met Pueblo East for the first time since losing to the Eagles in the 2018 Class 3A semifinals. But this wasn’t the same, loaded roster for East (0-2), and the disparity was present.

With the Tigers having their way on both sides of the ball, Barnett got around the defense and sidestepped one last defender on his 68-yard score midway through the first quarter.

Tied 7-7 into the second, Erie then pulled away on Theisen’s 60-yard TD. A passing hookup from Barnett to Theisen — also for 60 yards — was quickly followed by an 18-yard TD pass to Caden Lettis.

Dominic D’Ottavio then nailed a 45-yard field goal against the wind in the waning seconds before half to push the advantage to 22-7. Barnett’s 21-yard rushing TD came on the Tigers’ first drive in the third.

Erie, ranked sixth in the coaches poll this week, travels to Bear Creek next Friday.

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