WSN racks up second win for season

Published 1:42 pm Tuesday, September 5, 2023

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W.S. Neal fans packed the stands at the newly re-named Buddy Taylor Stadium on a Thursday night to watch the Eagles show out in a 53-6 victory over the McIntosh Demons, giving the Eagles a 2-0 start on the season.
Head coach Hugh Fountain said the decision to switch to a Thursday night game at home was a last-minute one. “I was worried about playing on Thursday night, because we didn’t really know until Monday that we were going to play here [on Thursday]. I told them, ‘We’ll find out tonight how we do on changes. Can we handle it?’ We’ve been creatures of habit, but they did a good job, so I was proud of them,” Fountain said.
Fans who chose to come out on a weeknight were not disappointed as the game got off to a fast start. McIntosh won the toss and elected to receive to begin the game, but a fumbled kickoff return was recovered by Neal junior Quay McCants on McIntosh’s 21-yard line. It only took two snaps for senior Jalen Likely to sprint 21 yards into the end zone. The kick failed, but the Eagles took an early lead 6-0, with only 20 seconds having ticked off the clock.
Unable to make any progress on the ground or in the air, the Demons chose to punt on fourth-and-ten. A big punt return by senior Carter Hodges gave the Eagles possession on their own 43-yard line. A completed 25-yard pass from Hodges to junior Jabrei Mackey was called back due to a flag against the home team. Hodges followed that up with a 5-yard pass to Likely. Likely then took the pigskin on a 14-yard run to put the Eagles at first-and-goal from the two-yard line. A facemask penalty against McIntosh moved the Eagles to the one-yard line, and Hodges took the ball over the goal line. A two-point conversion by McCants was good, giving Neal a 14-0 lead with 8:22 left to play in the first quarter.
On their next possession, the Demons completed a two-yard pass but on the following play, another pass attempt was intercepted by Neal sophomore, Daivon Polite. The Eagles capitalized on this turnover eight plays later with a 22-yard passing touchdown from Hodges to sophomore Sedrick Samuel, increasing their lead to 20-0 with 5:16 left in the first quarter.
On McIntosh’s next series, they were able to move 11-yards down the field, but Neal’s defense kept pressure on the Demon’s quarterback, forcing an eventual punt attempt that fell apart, losing 10 yards, and turning the ball over on the McIntosh 40-yard line. Hodges had two 8-yard carries and completed a 19-yard pass to senior D.J. McCain, setting up a 5-yard touchdown run by sophomore Eli Stone. The two-point conversion failed, giving the Eagles a 26-0 lead with 2 minutes left to play in the first quarter.
McIntosh held the ball as the clock ran out on the first 12 minutes of play, but they would once again punt the ball away early in the second quarter. On the first play of the Eagles’ possession, Likely would break free for a 64-yard touchdown run, moving the score to 32-0, less than 30 seconds into the second quarter.
McIntosh’s next series was interrupted with an interception by senior John Andrews. The Eagles quickly took advantage of this turnover with a 40-yard passing touchdown from Hodges to Mackey. A good kick by Samuel increased the Eagles’ lead to 39-0 with just over nine minutes left in the half.
Neal’s defense almost forced a three-and-out, but a muffed Demon punt attempt, recovered by McIntosh gave them a 22-yard gain and a first down. One play later, sophomore Omar Thomas would pull in Neal’s third interception of the game, setting up an 84-yard touchdown run by McCants. Samuel’s kick was good, increasing the Eagles’ lead to 46-0 just three-and-a-half minutes before halftime.
The Demons managed to hold onto the ball until just seconds before the end of the quarter, choosing to punt on fourth-and-seven from their own 39-yard line. The punt was returned into the endzone by freshman Jarrod Crook, but the touchdown was called back with a flag against the Eagles, just four seconds before the clock expired, sending the home team into the locker room with a 46-point lead.
Neal received the ball after halftime, and the JV took the field. A couple of good runs by sophomore Tyler Frazier and a beautiful 50-yard pass from sophomore Blake Roberts to Crook set Frazier up for a three-yard jaunt across the goal line. Add to that a good PAT by sophomore Dylan Pettis, and the score was 53-0 with 8:56 to play in the third quarter.
Neal’s defense forced a three-and-out on the next series, and despite a 17-yard run by freshman Parker Booker, the Eagles would end the following offensive drive by turning the ball over on downs at the McIntosh 40-yard line.
On their next possession, the Demons put together a 60-yard drive, carried mainly by senior quarterback Shon Williams who finished the series with a 5-yard rushing touchdown; however, the kick was blocked by Eagle Luke Brown, making the score 53-6 with 5:09 left to play in the fourth quarter, this would be the final score of the game, despite the Eagles steadily moving down the field, aided by a 12-yard run from Roberts and a 22-yard run by Booker. The Eagles completed seven plays in the last five minutes of the game (with a running clock), ending the final seconds with quarterback Roberts taking a knee.
The Eagles amassed 512 total yards of offense, 324 rushing and 188 passing, while the Demons recorded 88 total yards, 92 on the ground and negative four in the air. The Eagle offense was the epitome of “everybody eats,” with 16 different players contributing to the offensive stats for the night, and seven different players crossing the goal line on eight touchdowns.
According to Fountain, every single player got on the field during the game. “We cleared the bench against McIntosh, playing everybody that dressed out. The thing about it is, those guys practice all the time against the Varsity, and there’s nothing more satisfying for those guys, or for us, to see them get some playing time because they’ve been practicing all year for it. We were very glad to get them in there and get some plays,” Fountain said.
Likely led the Eagles rushing with 100 yards and two touchdowns on three carries. McCants had 84 yards and one touchdown with one carry. Booker gained 42 yards on four touches, and Ewing added a 26-yard run. Hodges, Frazier, and Stone all contributed touchdowns on the ground.
Mackey led the Eagles receiving corps with four catches for 92 yards and a touchdown. Crook had 1 catch for 50 yards. Samuel added a 22-yard touchdown catch, and McCain had one reception for 19 yards.
Kevin Howard led the defense with five tackles, three for a loss. Easton Grace added four tackles and one assist, while McCants had two tackles, one for a loss, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery.
The Eagles will take on the Mobile Christian Leopards in East Brewton on Friday night. This begins region play, and both teams come into the matchup 2-0. Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m.

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