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Riley, BMS roll past Eagles in opener

By By BRUCE HIXON – Sports Editor
His first score changed the complexion of the game. His second score gave his team some breathing room. Yet it was Derrick Riley's third return for a touchdown off a W.S. Neal miscue that broke the back of the Blue Eagles and carried the Brewton Middle School Tigers to a 33-6 victory Thursday at Brewton Municipal Stadium. The game was the opener for both teams.
In a game where W.S. Neal dominated most of the other offensive statistics, it was Riley's three touchdowns on returns (two off fumbles and another off a blocked punt) that more than made up the difference.
W.S. Neal outgained Brewton 175-148 in yardage, but it was not until midway through the fourth quarter when the Tigers picked up nearly half (71) of that yardage. W.S. Neal ran 37 plays as compared to Brewton's 20.
Those figures were even more distorted in the first half when W.S. Neal had a 129-65 advantage in offensive yards, which included a 108-9 edge in rushing yards. The Blue Eagles ran 25 offensive plays as compared to just eight for Brewton, yet faced a 27-6 halftime deficit.
W.S. Neal orchestrated an effective opening drive that ended when Jeremy Nicholson plowed through from one yard out on a third and goal situation. Jeremy Alexander's two-point conversion run attempt fell short and kept the Blue Eagles' lead at 6-0 with 4:37 left in the opening frame.
Most of Brewton's first half success came through the air in the second quarter. The Tigers began the frame with a 25-yard completion from Wil Riggs to Keyonte Lewis and a 31-yard strike with the same combination two plays later. Those plays set up a five-yard touchdown run by Cortez Banks. Banks then put the Tigers up 7-6 with the conversion kick with 6:24 left in the half.
The game would take a dramatic shift towards Brewton over the next couple of minutes. W.S. Neal's next offensive series ended with a blocked punt. Riley alertly picked up the loose ball and scampered 40 yards into the endzone for a touchdown.
Banks ran in a two-point conversion that suddenly gave the Tigers a two-possession lead of 15-6 with 4:48 left in the half.
Twelve seconds and one offensive play later, Riley picked up a W.S. Neal fumble and ran it back 20 yards for another touchdown. Although the conversion kick failed, Brewton's lead had suddenly grown to 21-6.
The real backbreaker came in the waning moments of the first half. W.S. Neal drove all the way to the Brewton four-yard line. After a false start penalty against the Blue Eagles, Riley picked up another fumble and won a 92-yard foot race to the endzone for his third touchdown of the half. The conversion attempt failed and left the lead 27-6 with 31 ticks left in the second quarter.
The only scoring of the second half did not come until there were four minutes left in the fourth quarter when Brewton capped off a 71-yard march with a 42-yard touchdown run by Banks. Brewton missed its third conversion attempt of the game and kept the lead at 33-6.
Both teams are backing action Thursday. Brewton entertains Escambia County, while W.S. Neal hosts Monroe County. Both games start at 6 p.m.