After four straight losses, ECHS earn first win
By By RICHARD PATE
Advance Staff Writer
The ECHS Blue Devils notched a victory into the record books Friday night with a thrilling 21-14 win over the Shaw Eagles at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
The Blue Devil high powered wish-bone offense rolled up 313 total yards while the gambling defense limited Shaw to just 48 net yards.
The game began like Devils' previous four with the team struggling to find continuity on offense in the first quarter. Both teams were forced to punt on their first two possessions.
The third ECHS possession yielded some positive yardage but things quickly turned sour as the Devils gave Shaw a short field to work with.
Faced with a third-and-long on their own 41-yard line. The Blue Devils had their first of two-punts block for the night. The excellent special teams play by the Eagles set Shaw up at the Atmore 28-yard line where they were poised for the score.
Shaw needed just 7-plays to get into the end zone and after a failed PAT, the Eagles led 6-0 with 8:12 left in the first half.
The two defenses dominated the rest of the half with neither team crossing the goal line making the score at half 6-0.
The coaches made their adjustments during halftime and the ECHS Blue Devils came out and played their best second half of the season.
The coaching and hard work by the Blue Devils paid huge dividends this week as ECHS played nearly flawless football in the second half.
Shaw took the second half kickoff at their own 37 and went 4 plays and out.
ECHS got their first possession of the second half on their own 29-yard line with 10:21 left in the third quarter.
From there, the Blue Devil wishbone attack moved the ball methodically down the field with quarterback Travis Guy running the show with Nebraska like precision.
The Blue Devils racked up 4 first downs on the 71-yard drive to the Shaw end zone. The drive culminated with a Henderson 1-yard run on a pitch out. The PAT was blocked making the scored 6-6 with 6:25 remaining.
The wishbone effectively opened up the passing game as Guy went 2-for-3 on the drive with 33-yards passing to his deep threat Ricky Craft.
And throw the ball he did, Guy was razor sharp in the second half with just 2 incompletions.
On the ensuing kickoff, ECHS special teams had a familiar breakdown as they allowed Shaw a 50-yard return into Devil territory.
With first-and-ten on the ECHS 41-yard line, the Eagles completed a 30-yard pass down to the ECHS 11. Two plays later linebacker Raymond Robinson broke through the middle and sacked the Shaw quarterback for an 8-yard loss. Following an incomplete pass the Eagles faced a fourth-and-17 at the ECHS 18.
The Blue Devils sent everyone on a blitz in a daring move to get to the quarterback. Jon Michael Beech was the first one on the spot with Steven Gray and Billy Pettway putting the finishing touches on the Eagle Quarterback. The drive was halted and the Blue Devils took over on their own 21.
The defensive stand was short lived as ECHS fumbled on just the second play from scrimmage. The ball squirted into the air and was caught in mid-flight by a Shaw defensive back. His return to the ECHS 1-yard line once again gave the Eagles the short field. Two plays later and a successful two point conversion the score was 14-6 in favor of Shaw.
That's when the ECHS coaches rallied the troops and began playing ball control offense.
Starting at their own 16-yard line, the Blue Devils put together a 13-play 84-yard drive that took 5:57 off of the clock and demoralized the Eagle defense.
The drive culminated in a 4-yard run off tackle by tailback Nick Brown. The two-point conversion was good and with 9:03 left in the game, the Devils had tied the score at 14-14.
On their next possession, the Shaw Eagles started with good field position at their own 49-yard. Five plays later they were faced with a fourth-and-three at the ECHS 33-yard line.
On what appeared to a pivotal play in the game, the Shaw quarterback used a hard count to draw the Blue Devils offsides giving the Eagles a first down. However, on the very next play a Shaw tailback ran off tackle for 16-yards but fumbled at the end of the run. Beech recovered at the ECHS 12 preventing Shaw from regaining the lead.
The visiting Atmore crowd was on their feet as their hometown offense took the field. And the Devils gave them even more to cheer about on the first play following the fumble.
Henderson took a toss sweep down the left sideline for an 88-yard touchdown run. The PAT was good and with 5:23 left in the game the Blue Devils led 21-14.
Shaw took the ensuing kickoff at their own 29-yard line and following another Robinson sack were forced to punt the ball away and hope their defense could stop the Devils offense.
ECHS took the ball at mid-field and picked-up the first down they needed to clinch their first victory of the season.
The Blue Devils are 1-2 in area play for the season and still in contention for a playoff spot.
Escambia County will take the field next week for homecoming against Robertsdale.
Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. Friday night.