Devils hang tough against Miller

Published 2:07 pm Tuesday, August 30, 2005

By By Tim Cottrell
While the Escambia County Blue Devils may not have been able to exorcise the demons of a long losing streak to archrival T.R. Miller, the Tigers may spend a long time attempting to exorcise Blue Devil quarterback Calvin Hartley from their nightmares.
The senior accounted for 322 of the 390 total yards accumulated by the Blue Devils in a hard-fought 28-20 loss Friday night.
Things did not start out well for the Blue Devils, however, as T.R. Miller drove down the field in under two minutes before quarterback Jordan Cauley tossed a 19-yard touchdown pass to Mikel Riggs to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead with 10:09 remaining in the first quarter.
ECHS was unfazed, as on their first offensive play of the season Hartley hooked up with fellow senior Chris Andrews on an 80-yard touchdown pass. Elliott Faircloth added the extra point. Just 13 seconds after the T.R. Miller touchdown, the game was tied again.
T.R. Miller then once again drove down the field with relative ease and punctuated the drive with a one-yard touchdown run from Nick Puryear with 5:56 remaining in the quarter.
Even then it seemed the Blue Devils would answer once again, as they drove down the field before fumbling on the Tiger 22-yard-line. The Tigers took advantage of the miscue, driving down the field again before Baxley Raines scored from one-yard out to give T.R. Miller a two-score lead with 7:03 left in the first half.
Once again ECHS would not back down, driving the length of the field and scoring on a five-yard run from Hartley. Faircloth's extra-point was blocked, making the score 21-13 T.R. Miller just before half.
The Tigers managed to get into scoring territory, but Reo Kirkland's 38-yard field goal attempt was short, and the two teams went to halftime.
ECHS got the ball to begin the second half, and on the second play ran a reverse to freshman DeMarcus Johnson, who gained 16 yards before turning the ball over on a questionable fumble call. The Blue Devil defense found its stride during the ensuing drive, however, and forced a turnover as David Quarker recovered a fumble.
After a drive stalled, the Blue Devil defense came up big again, as junior defensive back Parris Wiggins picked off a Cauley pass. The ECHS offense took advantage of the opportunity this time, and Hartley once again capped off a drive by scoring a one-yard touchdown run. Faircloth's extra point cut the deficit to 21-20 with 2:55 remaining in the third quarter.
The change in momentum was evident, as the T.R. Miller players and fans were noticeably shaken, whereas the ECHS crowd was energized at a level not seen in several years.
The Blue Devils then got a golden opportunity to take the lead, as they drove to midfield early in the fourth quarter. Facing a third down and one yard to go situation, ECHS coach Kyle Davis elected to go deep. Hartley missed his target on the play, leaving he Blue Devils with fourth down. After sending out the punting unit, ECHS attempted a fake punt that did not fool anybody on the T.R. Miller side of the ball.
The Tigers then drove down the field and took a 28-20 lead after another Puryear touchdown run.
The Blue Devils threatened one more time, but turned the ball over on downs.
Hartley would complete 6-of-14 passes for 144 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions, and rushed the ball 24 times for a whopping 178 yards and two scores. Junior Lavelt Hale ran the ball five times for 26 yards. Andrews caught three passes for 87 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore Elliott Faircloth caught two passes for 15 yards.
Davis was very upset with himself for his decision-making in the fourth quarter.
"I cost us on a bad call," he said. "That's on me. I let the intensity of the game take me out of the game. Our kids played a great game. I'll get better every week just like I ask my kids to get better every week."
Following the game Davis praised his players, telling them he "could not be more proud of them". He continued praising them after they headed for the locker room.
"Calvin played a great game," he said. "Our offensive line did a great job protecting him. We've got to play UMS-Wright next. The kids learned they can compete. We've only been at this for four months. If they let us keep at this we're going to have a strong program."
The Blue Devils will travel to Mobile to face the UMS-Wright Bulldogs Friday at 7 p.m.

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