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WSN football begins with a win

BY HEATHER STONE
SPORTS WRITER

It was great to be a W.S. Neal Eagle at the season opener, where a packed home crowd watched the Eagles soar to a 41-0 win over the Holtville High School Bulldogs. Neal begins the season 1-0.
Second-year head coach Doug Hoehn said, “I’m pleased for the kids. I really am. They’ve worked hard. We were a little concerned coming into this game because we missed two days of practice, but we knew the storm was coming, so we backed our practices up before we were out of school and started preparing for Holtville. I’m pleased all the way around to be quite frank with you.”
The key to the win, according to Hoehn was no turnovers. “Last year we averaged five or six turnovers a game, but we didn’t have one turnover tonight. The kids played hard. We were very limited on what we did on offense. The field was wet and muddy, and the kids were sliding around a little bit, so I think they did a great job.”
The Eagles had a deceptively slow start when they received the ball first and had to punt after four plays and a gain of 24 yards.
The Holtville Bulldogs were then unable to cross the 50-yard line, driving 18 yards in six plays and punting the ball back to the Eagles.
Neal’s next possession gave fans a taste of what they would see the rest of the night as the home team pushed 85 yards down the field on a nine-play drive, despite suffering a 10-yard holding penalty. Senior Marquese Banks made the final 19-yard run across the goal line. The two-point conversion was no good, but the Eagles drew first blood and took a 6-0 lead with 4:14 left in the first quarter.
This proved to be the only scoring drive for either team in the first quarter, which also saw Holtville and Neal each punt once more.
With 9:23 left in the second quarter, W.S. Neal managed a 76-yard drive in 4 plays that ended with a 52-yard touchdown run by freshman Quinton Samuels. The home crowd roared, and Banks crossed the goal line again for the two-point conversion, giving the Eagles a 14-0 lead over the Bulldogs.
On Holtville’s next possession, they fumbled the ball, and it was recovered by Neal’s Jeffrey McMillan, a senior. Quarterback, senior Christian Purvis had an impressive 21-yard run before throwing an interception. Holtville was unable to capitalize on the possession, however and gave the ball up on downs at the Eagle 15-yard line.
The Eagles proceeded to drive back down the field to see junior Trevor Burns make a 6-yard run across the goal line, followed by Samuels who punched in the two-point conversion. With 5:13 left in the half, the Eagles were up 22-0 over the Bulldogs.
Holtville once again turned the ball over on downs, giving the Neal possession on their own 20-yard line, but the clock ran out before the Eagles could score.
The Bulldogs received the ball to start the second half, but were forced to punt after moving only 16 yards. The Eagles downed the ball on their own 14-yard line and once again drove all the way down to the goal line in nine plays that ended with Banks making a 38-yard run into the end zone. There appeared to be a flag on the play, and it was unclear who the penalty would be against, but the “flag” turned out to be a piece of a Neal player’s uniform, so the touchdown stood! The PAT was no good, but Neal took a 28-0 lead over Holtville with 6:06 remaining in the third quarter.
Four more plays, and Holtville punted once again. Neal drove 36 yards in nine plays but surrendered the ball on downs on the Bulldog 32-yard line. Holtville punted four plays later, and the Eagles took over on their own 47. Seven plays later, senior Josiah Nettles scored on a 3-yard run, putting the Eagles ahead 34-0 with 9:10 left in the fourth quarter.
Two plays into the Bulldog’s next possession, Neal sophomore TyAnthony Alexander intercepted a pass and ran it back 17 yards to the Bulldog 19. Nettles pushed ahead four yards, putting the Eagles in position for a 15-yard touchdown run by Burns. Senior Keith Bradley’s point after attempt was good, so with 6:34 remaining in the game, the Eagles increased their lead to 41-0.
Sophomore Trey Taylor recovered a Bulldog fumble on Holtville’s final possession of the game. The Eagles were able to move the ball 43 yards down the field to the Bulldog 24-yard line before the clock ran out, so the Eagles finished their first game of the 2012 season with a blowout 41-0 victory over the Holtville Bulldogs.
The difference in Neal’s team from the first game last year was “night and day,” according to Hoehn. “I think we’re a much better football team right now, but we still have a long way to go.”
The Eagles had 572 total yards rushing with Banks adding 212 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns. Nettles racked up 119 yards on 14 carries and one touchdown. Samuels ran for 68 yards and one touchdown on 6 carries. Burns added 61 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns. Daquan Kiser put 56 yards on the board in 7 carries. Quarterback Purvis carried the ball three times for 28 yards.
Purvis went zero for three passing with one interception. Dylan Godwin was zero for one passing. The Eagles had 0 passing yards.
Next week, the Eagles travel to Andalusia to face the Tigers of Straughn High School. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

WSN – 6 16 6 13 – 41
HHS – 0 0 0 0 – 0
NHS – Banks 19-yard run (conversion fails)
NHS – Samuels 52-yard run (conversion good)
NHS – Burns 6-yard run (conversion good)
NHS – Banks 38-yard run (kick failed)
NHS – Nettles 3-yard run (kick failed)
NHS – Burns 15-yard run (Bradley kick)