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Eagles hold off Hillcrest in spring game scrimmage

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
There has to be a starting point on the field somewhere for the W.S. Neal Blue Eagles football team and Tuesday's 22-14 spring game win over visiting Hillcrest Jaguars was a good place to start.
W.S. Neal strung together a successful eight-play, 65-yard scoring march on its first possession.
Most of those yards came through the air, as quarterback Marquis Barksdale had completions of 14 and 18 yards to Dewayne Floyd and 23 yards to Jonathan Alexander. Those three completions helped set up a 16-yard touchdown run by Ronald Travis.
The Blue Eagles went back to the air on the conversion where Barksdale hit James Freeman that took W.S. Neal's lead to 8-0 with 8:19 left in the first half.
It stayed that way until late in the third quarter when an interception by James Freeman just inside W.S. Neal set up the Blue Eagles' second scoring possession.
Unlike the first touchdown, which was set up by the pass, this score came via the run when Jake Bailey broke through from 13 yards away. Bailey's touchdown run had been set up by a 20-yard gain by Ronald Travis two plays earlier.
Bailey made it a 16-0 W.S. Neal advantage when he ran in the two-point conversion with 24 seconds left in the third quarter.
Hillcrest was able to finally get on the board when it opened the final period with an eight-play, 70-yard drive that was capped off by a 22-yard touchdown run by Derek Page. Page also ran in the two-point conversion that shaved W.S. Neal's lead in half to 16-8 with 8:44 left.
In perhaps what was the biggest possession of the
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game, W.S. Neal responded to Hillcrest's touchdown with one of its own. This one also went 70 yards over eight plays and ended when Bailey produced his second touchdown run of the game, this one from one yard out.
Barksdale, who opened the drive with a 33-yard run, had his pass fall incomplete on the conversion that left the Blue Eagles up 22-8 with 4:59 left.
That seemed as if that would be a safe cushion, especially when the Blue Eagles' offense took over the ball at midfield with three minutes left.
That all changed when Hillcrest's Justin Stallworth picked up a high snap that went through backup quarterback Josh Danley's hands and returned it 51 yards for a touchdown.
Although the Jaguars came up short on their conversion run attempt, W.S. Neal's lead was down to a one-possession score of 22-14
Things became even more tense on the Blue Eagles side when Barksdale lost a fumble on the first play of the following possession and Hillcrest recovered at the W.S. Neal 30.
At that point, it was the Blue Eagles' defense that shut the door when it stopped the Jaguars on downs and did the same again in the final minute.
The first quarter of Tuesday's scrimmage was a "junior varsity game." Hillcrest won that "game" 6-0.
The Jaguars got a 22-yard touchdown run by Demetrius Nettles on their second play from scrimmage for the only score.