ECHS runs into Aggie buzzsaw

Published 4:18 pm Tuesday, October 18, 2005

By By Tim Cottrell
The Escambia County Blue Devils entered Friday night's road contest with the Jackson Aggies clinging to the slimmest of playoff hopes.
It did not take long for those hopes to be dashed.
Aided by several Blue Devil miscues and the freshman mistakes of quarterback Michael Thomas (filling in for Calvin Hartley, who is out for the season with a hand injury), the Aggies built a 28-0 first quarter lead on their way to a 41-14 shellacking of ECHS.
The Aggies opened the game with the ball, and quickly drove inside the ten yard line before ECHS recovered a fumble and began their first offensive drive on their own four yard line.
That drive would be short-lived, however, as the snap on the first play of the drive was mishandled by Thomas and recovered by the Aggies in the end zone for the first score of the night.
After a quick three-and-out, the Aggies got the ball again and drove down the field before scoring on a 28 yard touchdown run. The extra point gave Jackson a 14-0 lead with 4:01 remaining in the opening quarter.
Things would only get worse for ECHS, as Kevin Greene fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving Jackson the ball on the eight yard line. Jackson would score two plays later on a six yard touchdown run, building their lead to 21-0.
The Aggies would score once more as the clock hit zero on the first quarter after an 89-yard touchdown run.
The Blue Devil defense finally stiffened in the second frame, and both teams traded punts for the majority of the quarter. But the Aggies capitalized on a Thomas interception late in the half and scored on a 45-yard touchdown pass with 38 seconds remaining before the break. The extra point was no good, giving Jackson a 34-0 lead at the half.
The Blue Devils were clearly a different team in the second half, as the defense held strong against the Aggie offense throughout the half and the offense played nearly mistake-free football for much of the half.
However, the third quarter saw the teams trade punts for the vast majority of the frame before Jackson blocked a Chris Andrews punt and recovered it in the end zone with four seconds remaining in the quarter for their final score.
The Blue Devils scored two touchdowns in the final frame on touchdown passes of 30 and 35 yards from Thomas to Andrews. Elliott Faircloth converted both extra point attempts to provide the final margin.
Blue Devil head coach Kyle Davis said that he was proud of the way his team responded in the second half.
"I just told them, 'You're down 34-0 at the half. We got a fumble recovered in the end zone and didn't play well. You can lay down and get run over or you can step up and play hard'," Davis said. "We challenged them. The defense didn't give up any points. They played harder. They're starting to learn. Jackson was where we are, last year. They're getting better. We want to be there next year."
Davis was also encouraged by the play of his freshman quarterback.
"I think if he stays and works hard he'll be one of the better quarterbacks you'll see," he said. "He was nervous, he was skittish, but who wouldn't be? It was his first start. He made a few mistakes, and I expected that. But he played hard and he showed a lot of character."
With whatever chances were left of a playoff berth gone, Davis said he hoped to see a lot of character from his team during the final week of practice heading into the season finale at Choctaw County.
"We're playing for pride," he said. "We want to see some pride and we want to get better. If you don't have pride, you don't have anything. That goes for life. If you're a ditch-digger you want to do it better than anyone. We want to see them work hard and try to get better before we head into next season.
The Blue Devils will close out the season Friday night at Choctaw County in Butler at 7 p.m.

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