W.S. Neal Eagles: Details from Friday’s win in Mobile
Published 12:25 pm Tuesday, October 10, 2023
It was standing room only for many, including the band, when W.S. Neal traveled to Cottage Hill Christian Academy Friday night and brought home another region win, beating the Warriors 42-13. This win moves the Eagles to 5-1 on the season and 3-1 in region play.
Head Coach Hugh Fountain said, despite the big win, he still sees room for improvement, especially since the next games on the schedule are big ones.
“It was a good win for us even though we were up and down a lot in the game. Sometimes we were playing really good and then sometimes we made a lot of mistakes, but you’ve got to be proud of the effort. They did play hard,” he said. “This puts us in contention to still make the playoffs. That’s what we want to do. The playoffs is our number one goal. We know that the next three are going to be monster games. You know, Flomaton, Excel, and Thomasville are all going to be big, so we’ve just got to go back and look at where we are and try to correct mistakes and get better,” Fountain concluded.
W.S. Neal kicked the ball to begin the game. On the first play, the Warriors completed a quick screen pass, but the receiver was met immediately by Neal senior Jalen Likely, who made the tackle, stripped the ball, and recovered it for the Eagles. Likely stayed on the field for the offense, running the ball twice in a row for a 12-yard gain and then an eight-yard touchdown. A good kick by sophomore Dylan Pettis put the Eagles on the board 7-0 with less than a minute having ticked off the clock.
The Warriors started fast on their next possession, with a 14-yard run by the quarterback and a 16-yard pass, but Neal’s defense stepped up and stopped the progress, taking over on downs at their own 28-yard line. A 7-yard run by Likely was followed by a holding call against the Eagles, taking them from second down and three to second down and 11. Then senior quarterback Carter Hodges found fellow senior DJ McCain through the air for a 47-yard gain, before Likely took the ball the final 27 yards into the end zone. Pettis’ kick sailed through the uprights again, and Neal was up 14-0 with 7:10 on the clock in the first quarter.
The Warrior offense struggled to get moving, completing a five-yard pass that was negated by a run that lost eight yards, putting Cottage Hill at third and 13. The Warrior quarterback dropped back for a pass, but Neal sophomore Omar Thomas snatched the ball right out of the air and headed back in the opposite direction. Unable to capitalize on the turnover, the Eagles eventually punted the ball away.
The punt was high, giving the Warriors good field position at Neal’s 33-yard line. An incomplete pass was followed by a 20-yard completion and then a pass interference call against the Eagles, moved Cottage Hill to first and goal from the eight, where the following snap led to their first score, and a good PAT gave them seven points to Neal’s 14 with 1:05 left in the first quarter.
Neal Junior Jabrei Mackey returned the kickoff nearly the length of the field for a touchdown, but a holding call brought it back. The Eagles made some progress, but eventually chose to end their possession with a punt. Cottage Hill gained three first downs on 13 plays before they also chose to punt from Neal’s 47-yard line.
A nine-yard pass from Hodges to Mackey was followed by a 68-yard touchdown run from Likely. The kick failed, but the Eagles increased their lead to 20-7 with 4:26 to go in the second quarter. A short kickoff was recovered by Hodges for Neal on Cottage Hill’s 12-yard line. On the next snap, Hodges kept the ball and trotted 12 yards for another Eagle score. There was a false start flag against Neal on the two-point conversion attempt, so the ball was moved back to the eight-yard line, but Hodges found McCain in the end zone for two points, putting the Eagles up 28-7 with 4:09 left in the half.
Cottage Hill threw two incomplete passes before connecting for 11 yards. On the following snap, the quarterback had nowhere to go and tried to run the ball but was taken down for a loss of two yards by senior Brodie Brown and sophomores Aiden McCall and Tyler Frazier. Facing second down and 12 from their own 32-yard line, the Warriors attempted a deep pass that was picked off by Hodges and run all the way back for a touchdown, but unfortunately, a penalty against the Eagles called the score back, giving Neal possession on their own 49-yard line. After a couple of incompletions, facing third down and ten, Hodges saw that he had no receivers open, so he tucked the ball and ran for 15 yards. He followed this up with a 14-yard pass to sophomore Eli Stone and another completion to McCain before hitting Likely with a 17-yard touchdown pass with only 19 seconds left before halftime. Pettis’ kick was good, so the Eagles took a 35-7 lead into the locker room.
Neal received the ball to begin the second half of play and got off to a quick start with an eight-yard run by junior Quayveon McCants, a six-yard pass from Hodges to Mackey, and a couple of good runs by Likely before a sack put the Eagles behind the sticks, eventually leading them to punt to end the possession.
The Warriors started from their own 37-yard line and needed 13 plays to find the end zone on a 16-yard run just as the buzzer signaled the end of the third quarter. The two-point conversion attempt was denied by the Eagles, so the score was 35-13 at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Mackey managed a huge kickoff return to give the Eagles the ball on Cottage Hill’s 33-yard line. Neal started the series with a 10-yard run by Likely followed by a 10-yard dash by senior John Andrews, and ended it with a 14-yard score by Likely. Pettis’ kick went through the uprights, moving the score to 42-13.
The Warriors managed a couple of first downs before a big sack by sophomore Shannan Smith caused a loss of 13-yards. Facing fourth and 30 from their own 33-yard line, Cottage Hill attempted a pass, but it fell incomplete, and the Warriors turned the ball over on downs.
Neal had time for three more snaps before the clock ran out. That wasn’t enough for another score, but freshman Parker Booker managed to get in an 11-yard carry before the game ended, 42-13 for the Eagles.
Neal accumulated 326 total yards of offense, 216 on the ground and 110 in the air while Cottage Hill managed 209 total yards, 90 rushing and 119 passing.
Likely led the Eagles rushing with 12 carries for 170 yards and four touchdowns. Hodges added 17 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Andrews and McCants each had one carry for 10 yards and eight yards respectively.
Hodges went 7 for 12 passing with one touchdown, while McCain led the Eagle receivers with two catches for 54 yards. Likely had one reception for 18 yards and a touchdown, Mackey had 3 receptions for 24 yards, and Stone added one 14-yard reception.
Thomas led the Eagle defense with five tackles, two pass break ups, an interception and an assist. McCants, freshman Jaden Ewing, and sophomore Daivon Polite all recorded six tackles, plus assists. Senior Jaylen Williams had five tackles and two assists, while Andrews recorded four tackles. Brodie Brown and Easton Grace had three tackles and multiple assists.
The Eagles return home on Friday for a region game against the Flomaton Hurricanes. Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m.