Instead of spoiler, Eagles suffer stunner
By By DANIEL HODGE – Sports Writer
What comes around may not always go around, but it does seem to apply when the W.S. Neal Blue Eagles and Southern Choctaw Indians hook up.
Last year W.S. Neal stung the Indians 27-24 when Marquis Barksdale threw a 71-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Alexander with just under two minutes left and just seconds after Southern Choctaw had taken the lead.
The Indians returned the favor of that shocking defeat Friday when they stunned the Blue Eagles in even more bizarre and crushing fashion with a 20-18 win at W.S. Neal Stadium.
Dexter Williamson's 60-yard kickoff return off a lateral for a touchdown with just 20 seconds left gave the Indians the win and preserved an undefeated regular season for the top ranked team in the state in Class 2A.
Ironically it was a 73-yard pass from last year's heroes, Barksdale to Alexander, that set up a one-yard touchdown run by Jake Bailey with 38 seconds left that gave W.S. Neal an 18-14 lead and what looked to be an apparent victory.
The Blue Eagles moved into position to win the game thanks to their defense, which yielded only 175 yards to the explosive Southern Choctaw offense. W.S. Neal (4-6) also had a productive game on offense with 301 yards. Like previous weeks, that effort was negated by turnovers and special teams miscues.
The Blue Eagles' defense came up with a big play right off the bat when Justin Howard recovered a fumble at the Southern Choctaw 34-yard line on the first play from scrimmage.
Despite the outstanding field position, the Blue Eagles' offense was unable to take advantage. The Indians' defense proved to be too strong and forced W.S. Neal to punt following three plays for negative yards.
On their next drive, the Blue Eagles began from their own 35-yard line. The W.S. Neal offense would not be denied after three plays this time, as Barksdale hit Dewayne Floyd for a 14-yard gain and a first down. This play seemed to give the Blue Eagles some spark, as they used 11 plays to move the ball to the Southern Choctaw 15-yard line. After a failed third down conversion, Spencer Williamson nailed a 32-yard field goal that gave W.S. Neal a 3-0 with 2:27 left in the first quarter.
After a defensive stop and a short Indians' punt, the Blue Eagles were in business again with the ball on their own 43-yard line. Three Jake Bailey rushes resulted in a first down and moved the ball to the Southern Choctaw 42-yard line. Just two plays later Barksdale was hit and fumbled the ball. Styron Sims jumped on the loose football on the Indian 35-yard line.
The Blue Eagles' offense hardly had enough time to get off the field before the Indians fumbled the football right back on the very next play. Alexander recovered the fumble at the Southern Choctaw 37-yard line to give the W.S. Neal offense excellent field position for the third time in the game.
A 28-yard run by Barksdale, a play where he avoided several tackles, moved the football down inside the Indian 15-yard line. The Southern Choctaw defense sacked Barksdale on two of the next three plays and moved the ball all the way back to the position where the Blue Eagles began the drive, the 37-yard line. On fourth down the snap sailed over Josh Danley's head and all the way down to the Blue Eagle 27-yard line where Southern Choctaw's Marty Frost jumped onto the ball.
On the very next play, quarterback Skylar Gibson hit Frost in the right corner of the end zone for a touchdown. The two-point conversion pass from Gibson was successful and put the Indians ahead 8-3 with 7:21 left in the half.
The same combination that gave Southern Choctaw (10-0) its first touchdown produced its second score less than four minutes later when Gibson and Frost hooked up again, this time on a 10-yard toss.
Although Gibson's extra point attempt was blocked, Southern Choctaw's lead had grown to 14-3 with 3:24 left in the first half.
On their first drive of the second half, the Blue Eagles offense was able to move the ball down to the Indian 36-yard line where Barksdale's pass toward the end zone was intercepted by an Indian defensive back at the five-yard line.
Although that scoring threat was thwarted, the W.S. Neal special teams unit gave the offense another chance. After a defensive stop, the Blue Eagles' special teams stopped the Indians a yard shy of a first down when Southern Choctaw tried a fake punt.
With its best field position of the night, the W.S. Neal offense took over in search of a score at the Indian 25-yard line. All hopes were thrown away when Barksdale's handoff handoff from to Rohin Travis was fumbled and recovered by Brigham Young at the Southern Choctaw19-yard line.
While the Blue Eagles struggled to take advantage of good field position in the game, they actually had more success with a longer field.
Case and point came on the opening series of the fourth quarter, as the Blue Eagles used 11 plays to go 83 yards. After two plays netted a minus two yards, Barksdale tossed a screen pass to Bailey for a 56-yard gain to the Indian 29-yard line.
Several plays later, W.S. Neal was faced with a tough dilemma on fourth down and long