Bailey, Bailey, more Bailey as NMS tops Excel

Published 9:33 pm Monday, October 17, 2005

By By BRUCE HIXON – Sports Editor
They ran to the left, they ran to the right and they ran up the middle.
Yet each of the plays the W.S. Neal Middle School Blue Eagles ran had a common denominator.
Counting three conversion attempts, W.S. Neal ran 26 plays and running back Jason Bailey carried the ball on 25 of them in the Blue Eagles' 24-12 road win over the Excel Panthers Tuesday.
Bailey accounted for all 24 W.S Neal points, as his 22 official carries netted him 180 yards and three touchdowns. In fact, Bailey has rushed for 771 yards and scored 13 touchdowns over W.S. Neal's last four games.
The Blue Eagles (3-3-1) got off to a shaky start when they lost the ball on a fumble on their opening series at the W.S. Neal 20. Seven plays later the Panthers cashed it in with a five-yard touchdown run on a third and goal situation. A failed two-point conversion kept Excel's lead at 6-0 with 1:20 left in the first quarter.
W.S. Neal, make that Bailey, answered back when he broke loose for a 56-yard touchdown run on the opening play of the second quarter. Bailey's first of three two-point conversion runs gave the Blue Eagles an 8-6 lead.
One of the biggest series in the game came right before halftime when Excel, which gained all of its 184 yards on the night on the ground, drove all the way to the W.S. Neal 11 where it was stopped on downs prior to the halftime horn.
Bailey ran for 63 yards on nine plays on the opening series of the second half and gave his team some breathing room with a two-yard touchdown run. Yet his biggest play probably came one play prior to that when he reeled off a 22-yard run on a third down and 11.
Bailey's two-point conversion run gave W.S. Neal a two-possession lead of 16-6 with 3:40 left in the third quarter.
Excel cut into that advantage when it strung together a 12-play, 70-yard march and ended it with a six-yard touchdown run in the opening minute of the fourth quarter to make it 16-12. The Panthers came up short on a two-point attempt that kept the W.S. Neal advantage at that margin.
While the Blue Eagles were unable to run out the clock on their ensuing possession, they got something even better when Bailey capped off a nine-play, 70-yard drive with a 30-yard touchdown run that once again made it a two-possession lead. Bailey then added the conversion that extended the Blue Eagles' lead to 24-12.
W.S. Neal, which has now won three straight after an 0-3-1 start, will close out its season Tuesday when it hosts Brewton. A seventh grade quarter will be played at 6 p.m. followed by the varsity game at approximately 6:30 p.m.

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