ECHS wins 1st game of seasonPublished 12:00pm Wednesday, October 16, 2013
by justin schuver
MONROEVILLE — The Escambia County Blue Devils used a balanced offense Friday night, as they topped Monroe County 34-22 to pick up their first win of the season.
Quarterback Chris Johnson threw two long touchdown passes to Devante Williams and also had a 56-yard touchdown run. Johnson also scored on a 53-yard punt return in the first quarter.
Gaetyn Thames scored on a 1-yard touchdown run in the second half.
ECHS (1-6, 1-4 in Class 4A, Region 1) led 34-6 with 10:04 left in the fourth quarter before the Tigers made a late rally.
“This win is a testament to our kids,” ECHS coach Lev Holly said. “They played their tails off tonight.”
After holding Monroe County to three-and-out on its first possession, the Blue Devils got the ball back on their own 18-yard-line. Five plays later, Johnson broke away from the defense for a 56-yard touchdown run to give ECHS an early lead. The Blue Devils attempted a two-point conversion but failed, leading 6-0 with 6:49 left in the first quarter.
On the Tigers’ next possession, ECHS’s Devonte Lee picked off a pass and returned it from the Monroe County 44-yard-line to the Monroe County 2. However, the Blue Devils’ offense stalled from there and ECHS turned it over on downs.
The Blue Devils forced Monroe County to punt on its next possession, and Johnson took the catch and scampered 53 yards for a touchdown. After another failed two-point conversion, ECHS led 12-0 with 24.2 seconds left in the first quarter.
Monroe County scored its first touchdown with 7:22 left in the second quarter, cutting the Blue Devils’ lead to 12-6. ECHS responded with another score late in the first half.
The Blue Devils started their drive on their own 38-yard-line with 56 seconds left. A Thames run moved the ball to midfield with 45.8 seconds left, and two plays later Johnson threw to Williams in the left side of the end zone. Williams made a strong leaping catch over the defender and came down with the ball for a 50-yard touchdown reception. Another failed two-point conversion made the score 18-6 with 30.2 seconds left.
“We felt like we had a good chance to do some good things on offense, both running the ball and passing the ball,” Holly said. “It’s all about our team. If we execute our plays, we believe we can score.”
ECHS scored on its opening possession of the second half, putting together an 11-play, 62-yard drive that ended with a 28-yard touchdown reception by Williams. Thames added the two-point conversion run and the Blue Devils led 26-6 with 5:01 left in the third quarter.
The Blue Devils added their final score early in the fourth quarter, when Thames had a 1-yard touchdown run and added the two-point conversion run, putting ECHS ahead 34-6 with 10:04 left in the game.
Monroe County scored two late touchdowns, aided by two ECHS fumbles, but the Tigers could get no closer.
The Blue Devils return home this Friday, to take on Hillcrest-Evergreen (4-3, 3-2) in their homecoming game. Kickoff is 7 p.m.