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Banks, NMS miscues carry Tigers to victory

By By BRUCE HIXON – Sports Editor
It was as simple as (one) W.S. Neal botched punt attempt, (two) Blue Eagles turnovers and (three) Cortez Banks touchdowns that carried the Brewton Middle School Tigers to an 18-8 victory and a season series sweep of their arch rival Tuesday at W.S. Neal Stadium.
In addition to those numbers, perhaps the biggest number for Brewton was the yardage output it limited W.S. Neal running back Jason Bailey. Bailey had rushed for 771 yards and scored 13 touchdowns in the Blue Eagles' previous four games.
True, Bailey still had 95 yards Tuesday and the Blue Eagles lone score on a 46-yard run. Yet it took Bailey 22 attempts to gain those yards, an average of 4.3 yards per attempt. Take away the 46-yard run and Bailey had just 49 yards on 21 carries.
The Blue Eagles' two turnovers and botched punt attempt were reminiscent of the first encounter where Brewton took advantage of three W.S. Neal turnovers en route to a 33-6 victory.
In Tuesday's rematch, Brewton turned the first turnover and botched punt attempt into touchdowns and the second W.S. Neal turnover ended a Blue Eagles' scoring threat deep in Brewton territory.
Like Bailey, Banks was also a workhorse during the game where he racked up 85 yards on 18 carries with the three scores.
Banks had seven of those carries for 34 yards on the opening series of the game where Brewton (6-2) drove 53 yards over 10 plays. Banks capped off the five-minute possession with a four-yard run although the Tigers missed the first of three conversion attempts that kept the advantage at 6-0.
The Blue Eagles (3-4-1) were bitten by their first miscue on the ensuing series when they tried to punt, but Jeremy Alexander was unable to get the kick off and was tackled at the W.S. Neal 21.
One play later Banks covered those 21 yards to reach the endzone and double Brewton's lead to 12-0 with 1:03 left in the quarter.
Bailey tried to bring the Blue Eagles back when he broke loose for a 46-yard touchdown run on the opening play of the second quarter. Bailey was also able to run in a two-point conversion that trimmed the Tigers' advantage to 12-8.
Later in the second quarter Brewton's defense forced its first turnover when Chris Bell recovered a fumble in the W.S. Neal backfield at the Blue Eagles' 41-yard line.
Aided by a key 14-yard gain by Deonte Powell, who contributed 42 yards to Brewton's rushing total, the Tigers were able to cash in when Banks scored from two yards out to make it 18-8 with 44 seconds left in the first half.
W.S. Neal had its share of chances to get back in the game in the second half. The Blue Eagles were stopped in Brewton territory on downs three times, which included one fourth quarter drive where W.S. Neal got as close as the Tigers' three-yard line before it was pushed back.
The Blue Eagles were also stopped in Brewton territory for a fourth time in the second half when Kendrick Watson picked off a pass attempt by Alexander.
The Tigers ended their season with a five-game winning streak after they started out 1-2.
The loss ended W.S. Neal's winning streak at three games and dropped it below .500 for the season.