Eagles fall 23-14 to No. 9 Thomasville

Published 8:57 am Monday, September 22, 2008

By By Adam Robinson – Sports Editor
In what most people would have considered a mismatch on paper between the No. 9 ranked Thomasville Tigers and the W.S. Neal Eagles, the Eagles held their ground and put up a big effort before falling 23-14 Friday night in East Brewton.
The loss dropped the Eagles to 1-3 on the season and 0-3 in region play. The win for the Thomasville Tigers put them at 2-2 overall and 2-1 in region play.
Thomasville racked up 21 first downs to the Eagles' 10 and had 355 yards of total offense to the Eagles' 194, but the Eagles only lost by nine points.
Despite the loss, W.S. Neal head football coach Blaine Hathcock said he was impressed with his team.
After a 26-0 loss to the Andalusia Bulldogs, Hathcock said that his offense would need to sustain some drives and put points on the board and help get his defensive unit off the field.
While they may have come up on the losing end on the scoreboard, the offense put points on the board and had a couple of drives before being stopped by the Thomasville Tigers' defensive unit.
W.S. Neal defensive coordinator Kevin Jordan said his defensive team was only two plays away from turning the game from Thomasville's favor to the Eagles' favor.
After a scoreless first quarter for both teams, Thomasville was first to put points on the scoreboard as they took over on their third offensive possession of the night and first of the second quarter and used three plays to go from the W.S. Neal 35-yard line and James Jones went 32-yards on a pass reception from quarterback Stephen Rogers to put the Tigers up 7-0 with 11:19 left in the half.
After a series of swapped punts, Thomasville took over at their own 40-yard line with 52.4 seconds left and went down to the W.S. Neal 24-yard line. From there, John Dunagan connected on a 41-yard field goal as time expired at the half to put the Tigers up 10-0.
Thomasville came out of the half and punted on their first series and the Eagles were forced to punt on their series. On the Tiger's second offensive series, Thomasville drove from their own 45-yard line to the Eagles' 6-yard line when Jones picked up his second touchdown to go ahead 16-0 after the missed PAT with 3:51 left in the third quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, after two previous out of bounds kicks, Nate Sheffield picked up the kickoff and went 15-yards before being hit by the Tigers. While being hit, Sheffield pitched the ball back to teammate Jeremy Nicholson who went the rest of the way down the Eagle sideline for an 82-yard kickoff return and bring the Eagles within 16-6 after the failed two-point conversion with 3:37 left in the quarter.
Nicholson agreed with Sheffield.
While the big play on special teams got the Eagles on the board and fired up, Hathcock said his team needs to do that earlier.
After the Eagle kick return, Thomasville used a big return of their own to set up their final touchdown of the night and go ahead 23-6 with 1:29 left in the third after a 10-yard run from James White.
W.S. Neal added their final touchdown of the night after a 33-yard pass reception from Taylor Cash to Nicholson to cut the lead to 23-14 with 9:18 left in the game.
After the Eagle touchdown, Thomasville took over after stopping the Eagles 1-yard short of a first down at the Tiger 36-yard line and moved the ball to the Eagle' 3-yard line before being stopped and time expiring as they claimed the nine point win at 23-14.
W.S. Neal will be back in action next week at home against Calhoun for homecoming. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at W.S. Neal Stadium in East Brewton.

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