WSN football defeats Excel 44-18 to improve to 5-1 overall
The W.S. Neal Eagles put another notch in their regional belt this week when they traveled to Excel and downed the Panthers 44-18. It was a hard-fought victory that saw the Eagles struggle in the first half, coming back and dominating the Panthers after halftime.
“We played horrible,” said head coach Doug Hoehn of the Eagles’ performance in the first half. “We turned the ball over, which is something we haven’t done all year long.”
Hoehn said his team gave up 14 points off turnovers. “This is the first time we’ve done it, and we just played horrible, but the good thing about it is when we met with them at halftime and explained the situation to them, they came out and played much better the second half.
“Also, the Excel kids played their rear ends off, and their coaches did a great job of preparing them for the game, so we just had to settle down.”
The Excel Panthers received the ball to start the game and with only 49 seconds having ticked off the clock, scored on a 31-yard pass. Neal blocked the kick, but found themselves in unfamiliar territory this season, trailing 6-0 less than a minute into the game.
Neal answered with a 6-play drive that took them 59 yards down the field and ended with a 22-yard touchdown run by senior Marquese Banks.
The Eagle defense forced the Panthers to punt on their next possession and took over on their own 18-yard line. Senior quarterback Christian Purvis handed the ball to senior Dylan Godwin, who made a spectacular 82-yard run down the field for another touchdown. Banks ran it across the line for the two-point conversion, and the Eagles were up 16-6 with 6:10 left to play in the first quarter.
Once again, the Eagle defense forced the Panthers to punt, and took possession of the ball on their own 30-yard line. It took the Eagles 11 plays to drive down the field before freshman Malcolm Hawthorn ran seven yards for a Neal touchdown. The Panthers had the ball when the buzzer sounded to end the first quarter with Neal leading 22-6.
Excel struck quickly in the second quarter. Neal forced them to punt, but the Panthers were able to recover the punt on Neal’s 28-yard line with 11:07 on the clock. Eight seconds later, Dekota Welker carried the ball across those 28 yards for a Panther touchdown. A penalty moved the Panthers back to the 8 yard line for their conversion attempt, and quarterback Hudson’s pass was knocked down by Neal senior Damion Williams, so with 10:59 left in the half, Excel closed the gap, trailing Neal 22-12.
The Eagles fumbled the ball twice in the second quarter. The second fumble gave the Panthers excellent field position at Neal’s 1 yard line with 27 seconds left in the half. Excel managed to push the ball across the goal line. The pass from Hudson was incomplete for the conversion, and the Panthers went into halftime trailing the Eagles 18-22.
Neal was dominant in the second half, holding Excel scoreless, while racking up twenty-two more points. The third quarter saw sophomore Quantae Barksdale recover a Panther fumble, but the Eagles were unable to score on the possession. The Eagles did score with 2:13 left in the quarter on a 9-yard run by Banks. Purvis hit senior Cam Blackman with a pass in the end zone for the two-point conversion, increasing their lead to 30-18.
The Eagles scored two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter, one on a 13-yard run by junior Trevor Burns with 6:11 on the clock. The two point conversion pass was caught out-of-bounds and no good. The final touchdown of the game came on an 80-yard run by senior Josiah Nettles with 4:47 on the clock. Once again, Cam Blackman caught a pass in the end zone for the two-point conversion, and the Eagles finished the game 44-18, bringing home another region win. This improves the Eagles to 5-1 on the season and 3-1 in region play.