Mistakes cost Blue Devils
Published 2:41 pm Wednesday, September 14, 2005
By By Tim Cottrell
Three days of practice were not enough to recover from a tough loss for the Escambia County Blue Devils, as they were plagued by mistakes in a 35-25 loss to the Andalusia Bulldogs.
The game was moved to Saturday due to schedule reshuffling caused by Hurricane Katrina. Coming off a 53-8 loss to UMS-Wright just four days earlier, the Blue Devils (0-3, 0-2) appeared to still be licking their wounds, as they turned the ball over three times in helping the Bulldogs (1-1, 1-0) build a 23-point lead through three quarters.
The game opened up well for the Blue Devils, as the defense stopped Andalusia cold, setting up the offense in good field position. ECHS then drove 54 yards, capped off by a three-yard Calvin Hartley touchdown run to give the Blue Devils a 6-0 lead. Elliott Faircloth's extra point attempt was no good.
The Bulldogs answered right back, with two scores within five minutes of each other. Curtis Johnson ran in from one yard out with 5:50 remaining in the quarter, and Ladarrious McNeil followed that with a 19-yard touchdown with exactly 1:00 remaining in the first quarter. Gillis Jones was good on both extra point attempts to give the Bulldogs a 14-6 lead.
Neither team would seriously threaten in the second quarter of action.
Coming out of the locker room, ECHS got a big kickoff return from freshman Michael Thomas, but he fumbled at the Andalusia 40 yard line, giving the Bulldogs the ball back. Andalusia then capitalized on the mistake, driving 60 yards for the score. The drive was capped off by another 19-yard run from McNeil to give Andalusia a 21-6 lead with 7:52 remaining in the third quarter.
The Blue Devils answered right back, driving down the field on long runs by Hartley and freshman DeMarcus Johnson. Darrell Stephens capped off the drive with a six-yard TD run to give bring the Blue Devils within nine points. A two-point conversion attempt was no good.
Andalusia did not allow the Blue Devil momentum to last however, as McNeil ripped off a 78 yard touchdown run on the first play of the ensuing drive to push the Andalusia lead to 16.
A freak turnover then set up Andalusia in ECHS territory, and Martin Watson of Andalusia put the game out of reach on a one-yard touchdown run to give the Bulldogs a 35-12 lead.
The Blue Devils were able to strike twice in the fourth quarter on touchdown runs from Hartley and Chris Andrews, but a two-point conversion attempt with 4:42 remaining in the game was no good.
ECHS head coach Kyle Davis said the game could have easily been one with a few different bounces of the ball.
"Four plays really changed the game," Davis said. "The fumble on the kickoff return; a pass interference call that was the wrong call in the second quarter that would've given us the ball in scoring position; the snap hitting our kid in the face when he was in motion; and that 80-yard touchdown run. If one or two of those had gone differently, we could've been right in the game."
Davis said the game had a similar feel to the Blue Devils' loss to T.R. Miller in the opening game of the season.
"The defense kept us in it in the first half, and in the second half just didn't do it," he said. "That game (T.R. Miller) our offense was good in the first half and our defense was good in the second half, and this game was the exact opposite. We've got to have both of them put it together for a whole game to be able to win."
The Blue Devils will travel to Evergreen to face the Hillcrest Jaguars Friday night at 7 p.m.