Lost opportunities kill Cougars; Sparta wins 20-0
By By RYAN CARTER
That's what the Escambia Academy Cougars had in the first half of Friday's area game against Sparta Academy of Evergreen. The Cougars put together two impressive drives in the first half, both times moving into Sparta territory.
Unfortunately, in both scoring opportunities the Cougars came away with nothing.
Defensively the Cougars limited Sparta to three first downs in the first half and forced a fumble – ending Sparta's only scoring threat of the first half.
The two teams played to a 0-0 draw at the end of the first half.
The second half proved to be very different for the Cougars. They gave up three touchdowns en route to a 20-0 loss to Sparta.
After taking the opening kick, Sparta was forced to punt after Rob Mosley sacked the Sparta quarterback for a 3-yard loss.
After a 47-yard punt by Sparta, EA took over at their own 7.
That's when the Cougar's put together one of their most impressive drives of the season.
The Cougars picked up 44-yards rushing on the drive by combining quarterback sweeps with an option play to Brian Adair. Cougar quarterback Josh Davis had gains of 8 and 11-yards while Adair had gains of 10, 8, 2, 5, 7 and 4 on the drive.
The Cougars also went to the air with Davis connecting with Jace Beasley for a 14-yard pick-up.
Unfortunately after driving to the Sparta 17, the Cougar drive stalled and after failing to pick up the necessary yardage the Cougars turned the ball over on downs.
On the next series, the Cougar defense took control.
After Sparta moved to the 41, Shaun Sirmon and Allen Minchew combined to stop the Sparta QB for a small gain. Steven Wooten made a good defensive stop on third down forcing a fourth and long situation and a Sparta punt.
The Cougars took over at their 20-yard line.
Unfortunately, things did not good so well for the Cougars on this offensive series. After failing to pick up a first, the Cougars punted. The kick went high and short giving Sparta excellent field position at the Cougar 41.
After picking up a first and moving to the Cougar 30, the EA defense came to the rescue. Sparta fumbled and the Cougars recovered taking over at their own 31.
That's when the EA offense created it's second opportunity of the first half.
Again mixing a strong rushing attack with the pass, the Cougars effectively moved the ball down field.
After Davis picked up 7-yards on first down to the Cougar 38, Adair added gains of 2 and 1 to give the Cougars a first down.
That's when Davis went to the air and connected with Beasley for a 13-yard pick up and moving the Cougars into Sparta territory for the second time.
The drive stalled on second down after Davis was sacked for a 6-yard loss.
The Cougars took one more possession before the half, but with less than 30 seconds remaining, a Davis pass downfield to Bradford Price was intercepted.
The half ended with neither team getting on the scoreboard.
Momentum turned in favor of Sparta on the first play of the second half when Price fumbled the kickoff return.
Sparta recovered at the EA 40 and were looking for pay dirt early.
But the Cougar defense rose to the challenge with Sparta going three-and-out and were forced to punt.
Unfortunately, things didn't get any better on the offensive side of the ball for the Cougars.
After losing 5-yards to the 6, the Cougars were forced to punt.
Sparta regained the momentum when they returned the Cougar punt to the EA 20.
From there Sparta wasted little time getting on the scoreboard.
After picking up a first down at the EA 10, Sparta scored on second down from the 7-yard line.
The PAT gave Sparta a 7-0 lead.
After forcing another Cougar punt, Sparta hit pay dirt again just before the end of the third quarter.
After picking up a first down at mid-field, a Sparta runner went around left end and scampered 49-yards for the score.
The PAT made the score 14-0.
Sparta scored another touchdown later in the fourth on a halfback pass into the end zone. After missing the PAT, the final score was 20-0.
The Cougars fall to 0-7 on the season and 0-2 in area play.
They will travel to Catherine next week. Kickoff will be at 7:30 p.m.