Eagles plagued by turnovers
Published 4:43 pm Monday, November 12, 2007
By By Daniel Hodge – sports writer
In a physical game, the team who is the most consistent both offensively and defensively will typically come out victorious.
That was indeed the case as the Cleburne County Tigers (9-1) eliminated the W.S. Neal Blue Eagles from the playoffs by a score of 28-14.
The Blue Eagles (6-5) were troubled with three turnovers and several penalties on plays that proved to be very costly to its success. The Tigers managed nearly 400 yards of total offense while allowing only 165.
Following the opening kickoff, the Blue Eagles offense looked poised to make a statement early at its own 29-yard line. The Blue Eagles down to the Tiger 12-yard line via the legs of Ray Nelson, and three key third down conversions. Just as it appeared that the Blue Eagles were set to score, Taylor Cash's pass was deflected by a Tiger linebacker and intercepted by Jonathon Allen on the Tiger 9-yard line.
With possession, Cleburne County wasted little time getting a drive started. On the first play from scrimmage, Levi Davis grabbed the handoff and powered his way 11 yards for a first down. The play became much of an omen for the rest of the night as the Tiger offense gained more than 6 yards per play.
Despite its success running the ball early in the drive, the Blue Eagle defense held strong, forcing the Tigers to turn the ball over on downs at the W.S. Neal 32-yard line.
Following the change of possession, the Blue Eagle offense quickly exited the field when Nate Sheffield was hit and fumbled at the Blue Eagle 48-yard line.
TheBlue Eagle defense took the field and surrendered 46 yards on four consecutive plays. However, the biggest play was next. As fast as the Tiger offense moved the ball into prime scoring position, the Blue Eagle defense did one better. On first down and goal from the three yard line, Davis fumbled. Karish Jones picked up the fumble, dashed down the left sideline, returning the ball all the way down to the Tiger 10-yard line.
With prime field position, the Blue Eagle offense needed just two Nelson rushes to strike first. Nelson's 6-yard touchdown run followed by a failed extra point kick left the score at 6-0 with 5:55 left in the first half.
On the ensuing possession the Tigers moved the ball down to the Blue Eagle 37-yard line before being faced with a fourth down and long. From the 37-yard line, quarterback Brad Easley found Aaron Fields wide open down the middle of the field for the touchdown. Lucas Crawford's kick was wide left leaving the score tied at 6 with 4:31 left in the second quarter.
With the momentum shifting to the home side of the field, the Tigers held the Blue Eagles forcing it to punt after three plays.
With the clock ticking inside two minutes in the half, the Cleburne County offense wanted a late score. On its first play from its own 30-yard line Chad Morehead dashed down the sideline and into W.S. Neal territory. Following two more rushes that pushed the ball down inside the Blue Eagle 5-yard line, Derek Baker grabbed the handoff finishing off the drive on a 4-yard touchdown carry. The successful two-point conversion pass from C.C. Watson to Crawford extended the score to 14-6 with 49.3 seconds remaining in the first half.
On the first possession of the second half, the Tigers strung together its best drive of the night. It consumed nearly seven minutes and covered 63 yards over 11 plays. The biggest play came on fourth down and short to go from the Blue Eagle 11-yard line. On fourth down, Josh Pesnell grabbed the handoff and finished off the drive for the 11-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion pass sailed incomplete leaving the score at 20-6 with 5:34 remaining in the third frame.
On the ensuing kickoff, it appeared as things would take a turn for the worse when the kickoff glanced off of a Blue Eagle returner's hands. However, Jeremy Nicholson was not aware of this as he scooped the ball and dashed down the left side untouched for the touchdown. Cash's two point pass completion to Xavier Singleton moved the score to 20-14 with 5:18 left to go in the third quarter.
Once again the momentum had shifted, this time back to the visitor side. On the first play of the possession, Davis was hit and fumbled as several Blue Eagle defenders pounced on the ball at the Cleburne County 44-yard line.
The Blue Eagle offense managed to move the ball quite well on its possession following the fumble. Nelson and Akeem Green carried the load and moved the ball deep into Tiger territory. From the Cleburne County 20-yard line, Nelson grabbed the handoff and running down to the five-yard line. However, the play was negated as the Blue Eagles were flagged for not having enough men on the field. The penalty proved to be crucial as the managed nothing else on the drive and turned the ball over on downs.
A 35-yard pass completion from Easley to Pesnell followed by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against W.S. Neal moved the ball down to the Blue Eagle 24-yard line.
Several plays later, Pesnell punched in the final score of the game from two yards out with six minutes left in the contest. The two point pass completion from Easley to Watson moved the score to 28-14.
The Blue Eagles had one last chance to put points on the board, but all hopes were shunned when Cash's pass was intercepted by Watson at the Tiger 18-yard line.