Top-ranked Thomasville survives scare from Eagles

Published 1:28 pm Monday, September 25, 2006

By BY Daniel Hodge
Sports Correspondent

As the W.S. Neal Blue Eagles entered Friday's home game against Class 4A's top-ranked team, they were optimistic of another upset much like the one last season when they surprised Trinity Presbyterian.
The Thomasville Tigers (4-0) did not give in to those plans, as they doubled up the Blue Eagles 28-14.
The Blue Eagles (2-2 overall and 1-2 in region play) were hurt on the offensive side by six turnovers, three fumbles and three interceptions. At the same time, Thomasville's defense did not allow the big play, as W.S. Neal's longest play from scrimmage was a 20-yard pass completion.
The Tigers, who started the opening series from their own 32-yard line, got a 24-yard halfback pass on the first play from scrimmage that moved the ball inside Blue Eagle territory to the 44-yard line. Despite the big trick play, W.S. Neal's defense quickly stiffened and forced Thomasville (3-0 in region play) to punt.
After the Blue Eagles went three and out on offense, the Tigers regained the football at midfield. Thomasville's offense would not be denied points this time, as it needed only five plays to score. Jake Overstreet capped off the drive with a 15-yard scamper into the endzone. Cameron Donagan's extra point attempt squeezed through the uprights and gave the Tigers a 7-0 lead with 6:51 left in the first quarter.
The first of W.S. Neal's six turnovers occurred just after the ensuing kickoff when Louis Ray Nelson was hit and fumbled the ball. The Tigers regained possession and stayed in business until an illegal blocking penalty on third down forced them to punt.
The Blue Eagles took over at their own 20-yard line after Overstreet booted the punt into the endzone for a touchback. After three short rushes, W.S. Neal was faced with a fourth-and-one situation. The Blue Eagles lined up in the punt formation and snapped the ball to Nelson, who ran up the middle of the field for a 10-yard gain and a first down.
Despite the execution of the trick play on special teams, the Blue Eagles' offense would soon have to exit when three more plays resulted in another punt. This time Justin Smith received the snap and punted the ball 41 yards downfield where it was downed at the Thomasville 16-yard line.
W.S. Neal quickly got the ball back when Overstreet rolled right and tossed the ball downfield to Daril Jackson. From out of nowhere, Smith dove in front of the Thomasville receiver and made the interception.
The Blue Eagles had little time left in the first half to take advantage of the turnover.
W.S. Neal quickly got a 19-yard run by Nykeem Barton and a 15-yard completion from Marquis Barksdale to Jonathan Alexander to set up a first-and-goal situation from the seven-yard line. With 51 seconds left until halftime, Barton used another powerful run to cover those yards for a touchdown. Thomasville maintained a 7-6 lead when Jamar Travis missed the point after attempt kick.
Alex Buford grabbed the ensuing kickoff at the 25-yard line and dashed 55 yards down the right sideline to the Blue Eagles' 20-yard line.
After three plays that gained nine yards, the Tigers faced a fourth-and-one with only 11.6 seconds left in the first half.
Overstreet kept the drive alive when he picked up the first down and ran out of bounds at the W.S. Neal 11-yard line with just two seconds left. Overstreet then hit Jackson on an out route in the left corner of the endzone, as time expired in the first half. The extra point attempt by Donagan was good and extended Thomasville's lead to 14-6.
W.S. Neal's offense was able to regain the momentum it lost late in the first half on the opening series of the third quarter. From its own 34-yard line, Barksdale found Justin Howard down field for a 20-yard gain on a key third-and-long situation. Barksdale also found Ryan Meier for an 11-yard gain on another third down play. Meier's grab moved the ball down to the Tigers' 16-yard line. On the next play, Barksdale found Howard down the middle of the field for a touchdown.
The Blue Eagles coaching staff opted to go for the two-point play to try and tie the game. Barksdale took the snap and found Meier for the successful conversion to tie the game at 14-14 with 8:26 left in the quarter.
Thomasville was nearly able to regain the lead on its ensuing possession. The key play came when Roya Campbell ran around the left end and down the sideline. It appeared as if he would find the endzone with ease, but Alexander hauled him down and stripped Campbell of the ball. However, officials viewed the play differently and ruled there was no fumble. That allowed Thomasville to keep possession at the Blue Eagles' 10-yard line.
Three short runs produced a fourth-and-goal situation from just inside the three-yard line. On fourth down, several W.S. Neal defenders stuffed Campbell in the backfield for a loss.
Despite the goal line stand by its defense, W.S. Neal's offense was pinned deep within its own territory. Barksdale found Alexander for the first down, on a key third down play, but Alexander was hit and fumbled the ball at the 29-yard line.
While Thomasville could only settle for a missed 26-yard field goal attempt on that series, it soon got another chance.
With the ball at the 20-yard line after the miss, Barksdale handed the ball to Barton, who fumbled at the 17-yard line.
The Tigers needed only two plays to cash in the turnover when Overstreet connected with Tysean Thompson for the 17-yard touchdown pass. The extra point kick was successful and gave Thomasville a 21-14 lead with 9:02 left in the contest.
W.S. Neal promptly turned the ball over again when Barksdale was intercepted by Harris at the Blue Eagles' 42-yard line.
This turnover helped seal the game, as Overstreet threw his third touchdown pass and second to Jackson on a 45-yard strike. The extra point kick extended Thomasville's lead to 28-14.
W.S. Neal travels to Opp this Friday 7 p.m. for a non-region game. Opp fell to 1-3 on the year with a 24-22 loss to Daleville.

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