Blue Devils outmanned, outgunned by Ozark Eagles
By By Connie Nowlin Managing editor
ATMORE – In a game marked by one yellow flag after another, the Escambia County High School Blue Devils were unable to face down a superior Carroll Ozark squad, losing 58-22.
The flags started almost as soon as the players touched the ball. There were 12 called in the first half, split evenly between the teams, and one Ozark touchdown was called back on a penalty.
The first series of the game saw the Devils receive the ball only to be intercepted at the 10 yard line, which Ozark managed to turn into a two-point safety with 7:24 left in the quarter.
Quarterback Dereke Martin was 0 for 5 with the single interception on the first quarter of play. Late in the quarter an Ozark pass was caught by LeBrandon Sharp, but the Devils were unable to capitalize on it and punted it.
In the second quarter Ozarks' Jason Salter carried the ball 13 times, and he took two into the end zone, one on a toss from quarterback David Hendricks. The point after was good, taking the score to 16-0.
The punt was fumbled by the Devils and recovered by Ozark. It was Salter on the carry this time for his second TD of the quarter, only to have it called back on a holding penalty. Sharp broke up the next play, a passing play, and the half ended with the score 16-0 in favor of Ozark.
Early in the third quarter, Salter was the go-to man again for Ozark, making four carries in the first series. But the yellow flags ruled the day, and the second flag on that first series, a personal foul penalty on the Devils, carried a heavy toll for the home team when Justin Gross was ejected from the game.
A short toss from Hendricks to Lewis Thompson put Ozark into the end zone again, taking the score to 23-0 with 6:31 remaining in the quarter.
The punt was fumbled, but fallen on by a Blue Devil to retain possession. Martin was replaced at quarterback for the Devils in the second half by Lance Stanley and he carried the ball on the next play. But a toss by Stanley was intercepted, to give Ozark possession deep in their own territory.
Hendricks carried the ball in from just a few yards out for another TD, and the score was 30-0 with 5:19 left in the third quarter.
The Blue Devil offense got things going when Martin received the punt and returned it 86 yards for the touchdown. An attempted pass for two points was incomplete and the score was 30-6 with 5 minutes left in the quarter.
The following series, Ozark was not showy, but steadily marched down the field culminating in a 4-yard run for Thompson into the end zone for his second TD of the evening. The PAT was good, and the score was 37-6 with 2:09 left in the third quarter.
Stanley did all he could to get the air game going late in the third quarter, but met with little success.
Early in the fourth quarter, the flag fest took a break long enough for Hendricks to complete a pass to Victor McKenzie, who turned on the afterburners and took the score to 44-6 with 10:26 left in the game.
Stanley really found his game in the fourth quarter, and made completion after completion, his favored targets being Harvey Knight and Franklin Boykin.
Those combinations worked repeatedly as the Devils moved solidly down the field midway through the fourth quarter, and a hand off to Darrell Stephens yielded a second touchdown for the bedeviled Devils. The PAT was good, and with 7:56 left in the game the score was 44-14.
Ozark answered right away, though, with a long run by Herman Brooks followed by a 13-yard gallop by Johnny Reynolds into the end zone. The point after was blocked and with only 6:01 remaining, the score was 50-14.
Stanley went back to work, carrying the ball when his receivers weren't open, but using smart, sharp passes to them when they could make yardage. It was in this manner that the Devils walked down the field, into the end zone with a pass from Stanley to Martin for the TD and from Stanley to Antywon Madison for two more points, taking the score to 50-22 with 3:13 left in the game.
It proved to be too little too late as Reynolds took the third snap in the next series 40 yards-plus for another score. Ozark made the two point conversion stick and the game ended 58-22.
The Devils, now 1-7 on their season will play Russell County at homecoming Oct. 24. Kickoff is at 7:30.