WSN football gets big homecoming win over Calhoun
BY HEATHER STONE
The W.S. Neal Eagles soared above the Calhoun Tigers Friday night in an 81-13 homecoming victory, improving their record to 3-2 on the season.
WSN head coach Doug Hoehn said the win was a positive for everybody at Neal.
“A win is always good for a football team,” Hoehn said. “It’s nice for them to get a win on homecoming. It’s nice for the school. It’s nice for the community.”
He also praised Calhoun’s players and coach.
“They’ve got a good bunch of kids. Their kids played hard all night long. They played with a lot of class. Their coach is a class act,” Hoehn said.
The game got off to a fast-paced start. Neal kicked off to Calhoun to begin the action, but the Eagle defense forced a quick three-and-out. Only four plays later, Junior Malcolm Hawthorne got the first score of the game on a two-yard trip across the goal line. The PAT was no good, but a victory was underway with a score of 6-0 and 9:39 left in the first quarter.
The next score for the Eagles came with 7:53 in quarter after a short run by junior Quenton Samuel. A two-point conversion gave Neal a 14-0 lead.
Calhoun scored its first of two touchdowns with a 37-yard. The PAT was good, putting Calhoun on the board and cutting Neal’s lead in half to 14-7 with about half of the first quarter left to play.
That was the only time the Tigers would score in the first half, the rest of which would be dominated by the Eagles, who would rack up a total of 266 offensive yards, 246 rushing and 20 passing, before heading into the locker room, compared to the Tigers’ 51 total offensive yards in the first half, -9 rushing and 60 passing.
It took Neal two plays after Calhoun scored to move the ball 57 yards, scoring on a 36-yard run by Hawthorne, and a two-point conversion run by Senior Devontaye Taylor, increasing their lead to 22-7 with 5:28 still left to play in the first quarter.
The Eagles scored five more touchdowns in the second quarter. The first came with 9:14 on the clock, when D. Taylor ran from the 50-yard line into the end zone. Taylor also completed a pass to Junior Troy Lewis for the two-point conversion, making the score 38-7.
The momentum continued as Neal continued to rack up the points. When the teams headed into the locker room, Neal lead 66-7.
The second half of the game looked different to players and fans alike. In addition to six minute quarters on the clock, veteran athletes, who often play both sides of the ball for Neal and may be on the field for almost every play of the game, stood on the sidelines during the second half, taking on the role of encouragers. They could be heard cheering for their younger teammates as they had their moment in the spotlight. Eighth and ninth graders who rarely get to experience much, if any, time on the field in a varsity game got to carry the entire second half, and carry it they did.
Coach Hoehn was pleased with the performance of these players.
“They played hard. They got one score on them, but [they] played really hard, and I think they scored the last few touchdowns. They went out there and got after it. I’m tremendously proud of the younger kids tonight. Very proud,” Hoehn said.
The young Eagles gained a total of 79 offensive yards in the much shorter second half of the game, all rushing, while holding the Tigers to 54 yards of total offense, 52 rushing and 2 passing.
Calhoun kicked off to Neal to start the second half of play, and the Eagles took advantage of their first possession, eating three minutes off the clock, and ending an eight-play drive with a five-yard touchdown run by Freshman Marvin Maddox. D. Taylor’s PAT was good, so with 2:58 left in the third quarter, Neal was up 73-7.
The Tigers turned the ball over on downs on their first possession of the half, giving Neal the ball on the Calhoun 18-yard-line. Eighth-grader Antonio Dixon carried the ball all 18 yards for a touchdown as time ran out in the third quarter. The two-point conversion was good, giving the Eagles an 81-7 lead. This would be Neal’s last score of the night.
Calhoun controlled the ball for most of the fourth quarter with a sustained drive that ended with a six-yard touchdown run by No. 82 (no name in roster) with 1:11 left in the game. The two-point conversion attempt failed, making the final score Neal 81 – Calhoun 13.
Neal had 345 yards of total offense in the win, 325 rushing and 20 passing, while holding Calhoun to a total of 105 yards, 43 rushing and 62 passing. D. Taylor led the Eagles in rushing with 88 yards on four carries and two touchdowns. Samuel added 88 yards on seven carries and three touchdowns.
M. Hawthorne rushed for 73 yards on five carries and two touchdowns, plus an interception and a punt return for another touchdown. Freshman Kristian Taylor carried the ball three times for 25 yards. Maddox gained 20 yards and one touchdown on four carries. Dixon ran for 18 yards and one touchdown with one carry. Sophomore Peyton Salter added 10 yards on three carries, and Junior Andrew Langham had one carry for a six-yard gain. Lane Chavers was one-for-two passing for 20 yards to Joshua McMillan.
Despite the numbers on the scoreboard, Hoehn said he still sees areas that need work.
“The kids played hard,” he said. “We play hard every game. We had a couple of broken coverages back there. That quarterback was kind of elusive, and he was scrambling around. We came off our guys a little early before we crossed the line of scrimmage, and he threw it over our heads, so we’ll work on that.”