‘Getting better’: WSN falls to Atmore 28-15

Published 9:22 am Monday, September 19, 2011

The W.S. Neal Eagles fell to the Escambia County Blue Devils in a hard-fought game at home that ended 28-15 for the Devils.
“The kids played hard. They played hard all night long,” said head coach Doug Hoehn. “This game last year was 60-0. We finished 28-15 tonight.”
The Eagles saw a much-improved first quarter on both offense and defense this week, drawing first-blood with 2:20 left in the first quarter. Quarterback Dylan Godwin flipped the ball to Hunter Mullins, who then completed a 19-yard touchdown pass to Josiah Nettles. Mullins’ PAT was good, starting the Eagles off ahead for the first time this year. In addition to scoring first, the Eagle defense held the Devils scoreless in the first quarter.
“We talked about that for the last two weeks. We’ve got to have a better first quarter to give ourselves a chance, and the kids did that,” Hoehn said.
W.S. Neal had only three penalties called against them for a total of 30 yards, while Escambia County had nine penalties for 55 yards. However, the Eagles had turnovers at crucial points in the game that led to two of ECHS’s three touchdowns in the second quarter.
Escambia County’s second touchdown came with 3:01 in the second quarter, after Neal gave up the ball on downs at their own 16-yard line. After 14 seconds of play, with 2:47 in the half, the Eagles fumbled, and the Devils picked it up for a 35-yard touchdown.
“You know [Atmore has] a lot of athletes, and Coach Heaton and his staff do a good job with that bunch,” Hoehn said. “If you give them the turnovers that we [gave] them, they’re going to squeak in some scores on you, and that was the difference in the ballgame. Our kids played hard. Their kids played hard. I felt both teams were well-prepared for the game. It’s just, our turnovers are what got us. We have to stop the turnovers. We’re beating ourselves.”
The Eagles fought until the very end, holding the Blue Devils scoreless in the fourth quarter and sneaking in a 33-yard touchdown pass from Mullins to Nettles with 51 seconds left in the game. Godwin hit Ashton Elliot in the end zone for the two-point conversion, to end the game on a positive note.
“Our kids played physical. That’s two weeks in a row, which is really important. We needed that. They were even more physical this week than they were last week,” Coach Hoehn said. “They played through adversity better, and they played with class. Our kids have a lot of class, and they play clean, hard football, so I’m extremely proud of that. And they’re getting better every week. It’s not going to take us long before we get there.”
The Eagles racked up a total of 202 yards in the game, with 84 of those in the air and 118 on the ground. They gave up only 195 yards to Escambia County, 119 passing and 76 rushing.
Mullins was two for two passing for 52 yards and two touchdowns, while Dylan Godwin was 14 for 20 for a total of 32 yards and two interceptions.
Nettles led the Eagles receiving with 4 catches for 53 yards and two touchdowns. Mullins had 4 receptions for 14 yards. Marquese Banks and Keith Bradley each had three receptions, Banks for 11 yards, and Bradley for seven. Ashton Elliott also had one catch for one yard.
Ma. Banks led Neal’s rushing with eight runs for 52 yards, followed by Mullins, who carried the ball 5 times for 49 yards. Elliot also picked up 37 yards on two carries.
Next week, the Eagles travel to Evergreen to face off against the Hillcrest Jaguars. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.