Region Champs

Published 4:41 pm Tuesday, October 25, 2005

By By Adam Prestridge
The Escambia Academy Cougars (7-2, 7-1) made it look easy Friday night as they won their second straight Class 2A, East Region title with a 41-0 win over the Abbeville Generals before their home crowd.
"I'm real proud of our team all together," EA head coach Heath Gibson said. "It was a real big statement week for us. We went to Meadowview last week and got beat 14-12 in a real disappointing ballgame. We could have won the region then and locked it up. We got back this week and got back to the basics. I didn't even really care if the kids watched film on Abbeville because I wanted to work on Escambia Academy and making us better. The kids really bought into it and we got a lot better."
The Cougars jumped out to an early lead as they took the opening kickoff and drove down the field in six plays to take a 7-0 lead with 9:58 remaining the first quarter. Junior fullback Joe Drew capped off the drive with a three-yard plunge into the end zone and John Brantley successful converted the extra point kick.
On the ensuing drive, the Generals fumbled the ball, but were able to recover it. They weren't as fortunate a few plays later when senior defensive back Cody Norton stepped in front of an errant Abbeville pass for an interception.
A few plays later, Drew danced his way into the end zone on a 22-yard run to put the home team up 13-0. The extra point was blocked.
On the first play of the next drive, linebacker Ethan Brooks snagged the pigskin out of the air for another Cougar interception. Five plays later, the Generals' Rusty Champion returned the favor by intercepting Norton's pass.
Fortunately for the Cougars, it didn't take long for Abbeville to make another mistake, fumbling, which ultimately forced a punt on their next series.
Thanks to some more hard-nosed running by Cougar backs and a personal foul, EA was able to score four plays later when Norton redeemed himself by hooking up with Brantley on a 43-yard touchdown pass. Senior Bruce Smith ran in for the two-point conversion to put the home team on top 21-0.
The Generals orchestrated a 12-play drive on their next series, but Escambia Academy's defense held strong forcing the turnover on downs. It didn't take long for the Cougars to add another score when Kevin Maher galloped in for the score from 38 yards out. The extra point was blocked once again, but EA had built a commanding 27-0 lead with 38.3 seconds remaining in the half.
Just when Cougar fans thought the scoring onslaught was over for the first half, Smith knocked the ball loose from a General during the ensuing kickoff return and Skyler Rolin pounced on it for another turnover. A few plays later, Drew bulled his way in from the 5-yard-line to increase his team's lead. Brantley's PAT made the score 34-0 at the half.
Gibson said his team's intensity and ability to play fundamentally sound was the difference in the ballgame.
"We came out and carried out our blocking schemes on offense and came out and hit them in the mouth defensively," he said. "We came with our ears pinned back and created a lot of turnovers. Our defensive line got pressure on the quarterback and made him rush. It was a real good night defensively all the way around. I told our guys the key to their success is for them going hard every play. If they get after it, we're a pretty good football team."
The Cougars didn't let up any in the second half. On the Generals first play, defensive back Jeffrey Taylor jumped high in front of a pass and snagged it for yet another turnover. A five-yard quarterback keeper by Norton for a touchdown was called back on a penalty during the next drive, but Drew was able to get the points back with his fourth touchdown of the game on a three-yard run. The point after was good ending all scoring for the Cougars, 41-0.
"They just played a great game, we laid down and quit, but that's been the story of us all year," Abbeville head coach Ronnie Shelley said. "We're just young and don't know how to finish the game and we're not aggressive. Coach Gibson has done a great job with these kids down here. They execute well and they're disciplined."
The Cougars finished the night with 412 total yards including 344 on the ground. Maher led the team with 109 yards on six carries and Drew followed closely with 95 yards on 15 carries and four touchdowns. Jon Dean had 10 totes for 59 yards and Norton completed two passes for 68 yards and a touchdown. Drew led the defense with seven tackles and Smith had six.
The Cougars will travel to Monroeville Friday night in a rival contest.

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