Blue Devils bounced from playoffs

Published 12:45 am Monday, November 15, 2004

By Staff
Arthur McLean
The ECHS Blue Devils back-door appearance in the state playoffs ended abruptly on a cold night north of Montgomery as the Blue Devils were bounced from the playoff picture with a 36-0 loss to the Elmore County Panthers.
Turnovers hurt the Blue Devils, and a big-play Panther offense made them pay.
Escambia took the opening kickoff, but a Calvin Hartley interception gave Elmore the ball deep in Blue Devil territory. The Blue Devil defense held the Panthers scoreless though, and Elmore turned the ball over on downs.
Offensively, the Blue Devils weren't able to do much all night against the Panther defense. After going three and out, the Panthers again had the ball deep in Blue Devil territory, and again, the Devil defense stepped up to the challenge, forcing another Panther turnover on downs.
One Blue Devil punt later, the Panthers unveiled their big-play potential with a 27-yard sweep play, followed by a quarterback keeper from the 16 to go up 6-0 with a failed PAT.
On their next possession, the Blue Devils fumbled a handoff to the Panthers on their own 36, and Elmore wasted no time, making a 35-yard pass completion to the one. The Panthers punched it in, and ran a fake PAT sweep shovel pass for the two-point conversion to go up 14-0 with 40 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Blue Devils again were forced to punt on fourth down on the next possession, but the Panther punt return for what could have been a touchdown was called back on a holding penalty.
Three punts later, Elmore drove to the Blue Devil 15, but Darrell Stephens intercepted a Panther pass in the endzone to stop the Panthers short with less than a minute to go in the half.
Kendrick McNeal was injured trying to run the ball from deep in their own territory and saw limited action the rest of the game.
Things got a little sloppy for both teams in the second half. Elmore took the kickoff to the Blue Devil 47 and completed a 41-yard pass to the 12. The Panthers fumbled twice in a row but recovered their own ball. On a third and 20, Elmore scored on another long pass play, and the PAT made the score 21-0 Elmore.
With the Panther defense playing in the Blue Devil backfield most of the night, Hartley was sacked at the Blue Devil three, and the next Blue Devil handoff was stopped in their own endzone for a safety to make the score 23-0.
After forcing a Panther punt, Escambia again found itself deep inside its own territory and a Hartley fumble trying to get away from a sack was recovered by Elmore in the endzone for Elmore's second defensive score of the night. The PAT was blocked, making the score 29-0 Elmore.
Elmore tacked on another score late in the game, making the final score 36-0.
"I'm proud of our team," said coach Mardye McDole. "We faced a very good team tonight, one of the best. I'm glad we were able to make it here, but we'll have to go back to the drawing board for next year.".

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