No letdown for Eagles with sixth straight victory
Published 6:17 pm Monday, November 6, 2006
By BY DANIEL HODGE – SPORTS WRITER
If Homecoming week is a period of distractions for high school football teams, perhaps the W.S. Neal Blue Eagles should have more of them based on how they responded to this year's event.
The Blue Eagles steamrolled their way to 32 first quarter points and never let up, as they downed the Calhoun Tigers 52-0 Friday for their sixth straight win.
Friday was not the first time Calhoun (2-8) was a Homecoming punching bag for the Blue Eagles (8-2). W.S. Neal blasted the Tigers 63-6 when they last hooked up on Homecoming night in 2003.
The Blue Eagles, who have scored at least 40 points in each of their past six wins, were dominant on both sides of the ball all night. W.S. Neal's offense used just 14 plays to score 45 first half points. On defense, the Blue Eagles yielded just 34 total yards as well as three first downs. They also forced two interceptions and a fumble.
W.S. Neal's defense, which kept the Tigers in negative yardage most of the game, wasted little time before it established itself. On the first play from scrimmage, Xavier Singleton intercepted Calhoun quarterback Ricky Davison's pass and ran it back 32 yards for a touchdown. The point after attempt kick by Akeem Green sailed through the uprights and gave the Blue Eagles a 7-0 lead just 19 seconds into the game.
After a three-and-out stop by the W.S. Neal defense, the Blue Eagles' offense proved it could also strike quickly when it went 49 yards in just three plays.
Nykeem Barton started the possession with a 20-yard run and finished it with a 14-yard run into the end zone. Justin Smith picked up a 15-yard gain between Barton's carries. Although the Tigers blocked Green's extra point attempt, W.S. Neal maintained a 13-0 lead with 9:05 still left in the first quarter.
The Blue Eagles special teams contributed to the next score when they tackled Calhoun punter Darrel Robinson at the Tigers' 17-yard line before he could get the kick off.
W.S. Neal's offense was even more efficient than the first time it had the ball when it scored in just three plays. This time the Blue Eagles needed just one play to find the end zone, as Marquis Barksdale found Smith wide open in the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown. Green's PAT kick was good and extended W.S. Neal's cushion to 20-0 with 7:07 left in the first quarter.
The Blue Eagles scoring machine was in between its three-play and one-play scoring drives of the first two series with a two-play strike on their third possession. After a short punt by the Tigers, Barton picked up a first down with a 10-yard run and finished it with a dash down the left sideline for a 35-yard run touchdown. A missed PAT attempt by Green left the bulge at 26-0 with 5:02 left in the first quarter.
W.S. Neal's defense recorded its second turnover of the period when Louis Ray Nelson picked off a fourth down pass by Robinson at the Blue Eagles 17-yard line.
The longer field did little to slow down W.S. Neal's offense, which did not face a second down until halfway through the second quarter. Barksdale accounted for most of the 83-yard possession when he faked the handoff and ran around the left end 64 yards before he was tackled from behind at the Tigers' seven-yard line. One play later Barton scored his third touchdown of the quarter on a seven-yard run that swelled the lead to 32-0 with 1:54 left in the first quarter despite Smith's failed PAT kick.
W.S. Neal's special teams set up another score after a three-and-out by the defense when Jeremy Nicholson returned a punt 32 yards to the Calhoun 13-yard line.
After a run for a three-yard loss, Smith regained those lost yards and more when he weaved his way for a 16-yard touchdown run. Despite an unsuccessful conversion two-point pass, the Blue Eagles led 38-0 with 9:56 left until halftime.
W.S. Neal capped off its first half outburst when Nelson scored on a 13-yard run with 7:16 left in the first half. Nelson's touchdown was followed by a successful PAT kick by Green that extended the lead to 45-0.
About the only thing that slowed down W.S. Neal was a shortened second half that was abbreviated to eight-minute quarters and a running clock on top of that.
The Blue Eagles reserve unit contributed the final score with 7:10 left in the game when Taylor Cash hit Nathan Frazier for an eight-yard touchdown. Thomas Emmons' PAT accounted for the last point of the 52-0 victory.
W.S. Neal's defense nearly got a double shutout. In addition to holding the Tigers scoreless, Calhoun did not get a first down until late in the fourth quarter.
The Blue Eagles will kick off their portion of the Class 4A playoffs with a first-round trip to Jemison Thursday. Jemison (6-4), the number two seed from Region 4, ended its regular season Friday with a 28-21 loss to Jackson. Game time is 7 p.m.