T.R. Miller thwarts ECHS
Published 9:10 am Monday, September 1, 2003
By By Randy Winton
BREWTON – Escambia County Blue Devils struck early against top-ranked T.R. Miller, who teased them through the first quarter, only to see Miller run away with a 44-24 season-opener at Brewton Municipal Stadium Friday night.
Twice in the first half, the explosive ECHS offense broke big plays to score touchdowns, only to have the momentum abruptly taken away with immediate answers by the Tigers, who began defense of their sixth state championship with their 14th straight opening-season victory.
Sporting a dangerous trio on offense, ECHS came into the game having already proved it's big-play capability in blowing out Shaw High School the week before. With quarterback Dereke Martin and running backs Calvin Davis and Chris Simpson putting on a show at times with their incredible speed in the open field, the Devils rolled up 240 yards on the ground against that young Tiger defensive unit. Martin led all rushers with 142 yards on 10 carries and a TD, and tossed a pair of second-half touchdown passes as well.
Just two plays into the game, in fact, Davis broke off left tackle and raced 77 yards for the game's first touchdown barely three minutes into the game. So, the importance of how his team might react to such adversity early was not lost on Riggs or his team. He got his answer when the Tiger offense turned right around and scored four plays later when Fountain broke through the right side of the line and raced 40 yards untouched for a touchdown. Joseph Turner booted the first of his six PATs to make it 7-6.
"We knew coming in that a key for us might be the way we handled adversity during the course of a game. To get down a touchdown on the second play of the game might have had a negative affect on a lot of teams," said Miller head football coach Jamie Riggs.
Even though the Tigers had taken a 23-6 lead, ECHS seemed to regain some of the momentum when Martin culminated a 91-yard drive with a dazzling 39-yard touchdown on a quarterback draw with just :0.8 left in the first half. The Tigers could have taken a commanding lead into the half, but instead watched a three-touchdown lead turn into a precarious 23-12 advantage at the break.
Whatever momentum ECHS might have had was erased when sophomore Antonio Gomez took the second-half kickoff and returned it 87 yards to the house to provide Miller the breathing room at 30-12 it needed to put the game away. Two touchdowns by Miller offset a pair of second-half ECHS scores. The first by Phillip Sharp on a 2-yard pass from Martin and the other a 16-yard pass from Martin to Franklin Boykin.
Martin was 3 for 10 with 25 yards in the air and no interceptions. The Blue Devils recovered 2 of 3 fumbles. Calvin Davis lead the ECHS rushing effort with 77 yards, part of 235 yards rushing. The teams was penalized 4 times for a total of 17 yards.
The Blue Devils, now 0-1 on the season will begin regional play Sept. 5 at home against Charles Henderson. Kickoff time is 7:30 p.m.