WSN loses to No. 1 Thomasville

Published 12:27 am Saturday, October 15, 2011

By Heather Stone
Sports Writer

Working with some less experienced players due to injuries, the W.S. Neal Eagles, were unable to stop the number one ranked Thomasville Tigers, in Thomasville Friday night.
The final score was 42-8 for the Tigers, who remain undefeated this season.
It looked like it might be a runaway ballgame when Neal received the ball first but was unable to score. They punted to Thomasville, who needed only 4 plays to cross the goal line with 7:44 left in the first quarter. However the Eagle defense played hard, holding the Tigers to only 7 points in the first quarter and 21 points in the second.
“The kids played very hard tonight,” head coach Doug Hoehn said. “(Thomasville runs) a wing-T, and you have to read every play on that, and 90-95 percent of the time our reads were right. Two runs, we had wrong reads, and they got us on it. Two other runs, we just had some missed tackles. It wasnít a lack of effort; we actually hit the kids, were physical, but we didnít wrap up, so that was four of their touchdowns there.
“The kids never gave up. They played hard.”
On Neal’s second possession of the game, Thomasville intercepted a pass, but later fumbled, and the ball was recovered by Nealís Nick Straiton. The Eagles were forced to punt to begin the second quarter, and the Tigers, ended an eight-play drive with another touchdown with 7:46 left in the second quarter. At half time, Neal’s defense had held Thomasville to only one more touchdown, ending the half with the score Thomasville 28 to Neal 0.
Hoehn said the Neal defense played well.
“We had two misreads, and they broke it on us. Two other scores, we actually had the kid, but we just didnít wrap up. Give credit to them. They’re a great team, and their kids are physical. You’ve got to wrap those kids up or else you’re not going to bring them down.”
Hoehn also credited the offense.
“The offensive line kept working hard all night long,” he said. “We had a couple of drives, and then a couple of penalties set us back. Thomasville is way too good of a team for us to get behind the chains on.”
Thomasville received the ball to start the second half, taking over on Neal’s 40-yard line. A two-play drive led to another Tiger touchdown, raising the score to 35 for Thomasville.
The Eagles were forced to punt on their next possession. The punt was blocked by Thomasville, who then gained possession at Neal’s 18-yard line. It only took one play to score again, moving ahead of Neal by 42 points to 0 with 7:50 left in the third quarter. After that, the Eagle defense tightened up and prevented the Tigers from crossing the goal line for the rest of the game.
With the Eagle defense holding the Tigers scoreless in the fourth quarter, Neal quarterback Christian Purvis handed the ball off to Marquese Banks, who ran 46 yards for a touchdown. Banks was also able to complete a three-yard run for the two-point conversion, with 1:53 left in the game.
The Eagles did improve against the Tigers this year. In their last two match-ups with Thomasville, Neal fell 56-7 (in 2010) and 58-0 (in 2009).
Despite the loss, Hoehn said he was proud of the team’s effort, especially in the face of some challenges.
“We had a quarterback, in a full-game situation, and that was the second time he’s played for us all year long,” he said. “You know, for him to come in … we had one of our running backs who was still tweaked a little bit. We had two kids who hadnít played any Varsity games for us this year start for us tonight, so to play against the number one team in the state, you know youíre never happy about a loss, but I’m happy with the kids’ effort.”
Neal moved the ball a total of 220 yards, with 191 on the coming on the ground and 29 in the air. Thomasville had a total of 346 yards, rushing for 225 and passing for 121.
Leading Neal rushing was Marquese Banks with 20 carries for 141 yards. Hunter Mullins had 12 carries for 44 yards, and Damion Williams gained 25 yards on 3 carries.
Christian Purvis was one for 12 passing for 29 yards with Josiah Nettles on the 29-yard reception.
Next week Neal will play Saraland at home.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.