NMS dominates numbers, Excel for fourth straight victory
Published 4:58 pm Monday, October 23, 2006
By BY BRUCE HIXON – SPORTS EDITOR
They dominated the time of possession. They dominated the yardage totals. Most importantly, the W.S. Neal Middle School Blue Eagles dominated the score in their 26-8 home win over the Excel Panthers Thursday.
It was the fourth straight win for NMS (4-3) since it began the season with three straight losses and guaranteed the Blue Eagles no worse than a break-even season headed into Tuesday's season finale at unbeaten Brewton.
The Blue Eagles, who had the ball for nearly 20 of the game's 32 minutes, racked up a season high 310 yards rushing. Yet it was the effort by the W.S. Neal defense that was the most telling. Excel had just 18 yards worth of offense and minus four yards rushing when Quarles took out his starting defensive unit with 1:23 left.
While the Blue Eagles dominated the first half play, they did not have much to show for it.
W.S. Neal came away empty after it ran 12 plays for 56 yards before it was stopped on downs at the Excel 14-yard line on its opening offensive series.
The Blue Eagles also had a sustained drive on their second series when they went 54 yards over nine plays. Excel's defense helped bail out W.S. Neal's offense twice during the drive. The Panthers gave the Blue Eagles a first down on a third down encroachment penalty. Later in the possession Excel was called for a face mask penalty that turned a potential third and long into third and short, which W.S. Neal converted into a first down.
The Blue Eagles finally cashed in with 38 seconds left in the half when T.J. Taylor, who led W.S. Neal's ground game with 137 yards on 17 attempts, scored from four yards out. A missed conversion left the Blue Eagles' lead at 6-0.
W.S. Neal's offense missed a couple of opportunities in the third quarter to add to that lead. The Blue Eagles drove into Excel territory on the opening second half possession only to be pushed out of it with three straight penalties. W.S. Neal was turned away the second time when it lost a fumble just short of its side of midfield.
It took a defensive play that helped get the Blue Eagles offense going again. Joseph Adkins recovered an Excel fumble at the W.S. Neal 34-yard line in the waning moments of the third quarter. Three plays later Percy Travis, who had 87 yards rushing on just seven carries, broke two tackles and scored on a 65-yard touchdown run that doubled the lead to 12-0.
The Blue Eagles added two more scores to that total in the fourth quarter after back-to-back defensive stops. DeParish Campbell scored on a 34-yard run to make it 18-0 with 4:24 left, while Cordarius Day broke through on a 33-yard run with 1:23 left. Day ran in the conversion to make it 26-0.
Excel broke up the shutout with 35 seconds left when Dashon Coldwell scored on a 53-yard run. Backup quarterback Brad Mitchell followed with the conversion run that accounted for the rest of the 26-8 margin.
Tuesday's season finale at Brewton kicks off at 6 p.m.