WSN gets another shutout win over Holtville Friday night
BY HEATHER STONE
W.S. Neal got a great start to the regular season Friday night by dominating 4A Holtville High School 36-0 on the road. It was their second win in a row over the Bulldogs.
Though both teams remained scoreless in the first quarter, the Eagle offense managed to move the ball a total of 79 yards on three possessions, while the defense held Holtville to negative nine yards on two possessions.
Head coach Doug Hoehn gave credit to an improved Holtville team for the Eagles’ struggle to score in the first 12 minutes of the game.
“Holtville is much improved over last year, so I want to give them credit. Their coach is doing a great job,” Hoehn said.
Neal received the ball first and was forced to punt after seven plays. On the Bulldogs’ first possession, two incomplete passes and a sacked quarterback put them at fourth down and 15, forcing a punt. The Eagles managed to drive 59 yards down the field to fourth and goal before giving up a fumble to Holtville.
The Bulldogs lost eight yards on three plays and punted on fourth and 14. The Eagles received the ball on the Bulldogs’ 40-yard-line, and four plays later when the quarter ended, the Eagles had moved the ball to the 10-yard-line. Thirty-six seconds into the second quarter, sophomore, Quenton Samuels ran the final 10 yards into the end zone for the first score of the night. Fellow sophomore Malcolm Hawthorne followed up with the two-point conversion run to put the Eagles up 8-0 with 11:24 left in the second quarter.
Holtville managed to gain three yards on their next possession, and was forced to punt on fourth and seven. The Eagles received the ball on their own 12-yard-line and needed nine plays to drive down the field, ending the possession with a 29-yard touchdown run by Samuels. Hawthorne completed a pass to senior Mike Williams for the two point conversion and with 5:02 on the clock in the second quarter, the Eagles went up 16-0 over the Bulldogs.
Neal executed an on-side kick, which junior Tyanthony Alexander fell on, giving the Eagles possession on Holtville’s 45-yard-line. A 20-yard penalty for holding prevented them from scoring and forced a punt.
About the night’s penalties, Hoehn said, “We had a couple penalties I wish we hadn’t had, but you know, it’s early in the season, and sometimes you see that. We try to work really hard at practice for that not to happen, and we’ll just continue to work on it.”
Holtville failed to gain a first down when junior Miles Powell intercepted a pass, and the Eagles took over on their own 46-yard-line. Eight plays later, with the clock winding down to end the first half, a 33-yard touchdown pass from Hawthorne to Powell, followed by a two-point conversion run by Hawthorne, sent the Eagles into the locker room with a 24-0 lead over the Bulldogs.
Holtville received the ball first after halftime and was unable to gain a first down. They punted and Neal took over on their own 29-yard-line. It took six plays to drive down the field to the 8-yard-line, where the ball was given to junior Quante Barksdale, who ran across the goal line for the fourth touchdown of the night. This put Neal ahead 30-0 with 6:57 left in the third quarter.
Holtville received the ball on its own 35-yard-line, and after a rushing loss of 5 yards, gained its only first down of the game with a 23–yard pass from Taylor Whitt to T.I. Zeigler. Three more pass attempts were incomplete, and the Bulldogs punted once again.
The Eagles took possession of the ball on their own 8-yard-line. They steadily drove down the field, gaining five first downs in the process until they were looking at a fourth and goal. With three yards standing between them and another score, Hawthorne got the ball and carried it across the line, putting the Eagles ahead 36-0 with 8:20 left in the ballgame.
Holtville failed to get a first down, and when the Eagle offense took the field again, a few younger athletes saw some playing time. Among them were freshmen Peyton Salter and Keith Barksdale who both had opportunities to carry the ball. The Bulldogs had one more possession, but weren’t able to move the chains. They punted to the Eagles with 16 seconds left in the game, and when the clock ran out, the final score was Neal 36, Holtville 0.
Hoehn said he thought the key to the win was conditioning — and heart.
“I think we might have been in a little better condition, and it was hot out here tonight, and that certainly helped us out a lot,” he said. “Our kids worked hard every play. They didn’t take any plays off. I think the fact that we were in good condition and we lined up and played hard every play, I think that was the difference in the game.”
Next Friday, W.S. Neal will play Straughn at home. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.