Devils dominate Jackson
By By Matthew Nascone
The Escambia County Blue Devils were locked in a duel with the Jackson Aggies Friday night at Herbert Barnes Stadium. The score at the end of the first quarter was 7-7, but then the Blue Devils (4-2, 3-1) busted the game open with 29 points in the second quarter.
"It was a great game offensively for us," ECHS head coach Kyle Davis said. "Coach (Keith) Nall had some great play calls out there and we executed well and eliminated the turnovers. We got the big plays when we needed them."
Sophomore quarterback Michael Thomas opened the scoring with a 15-yard touchdown run with 9:00 left in the first quarter. Jackson answered with a touchdown of their own and the score was knotted at 7-7 entering the second quarter.
Thomas broke that tie with a 65-yard touchdown run, followed by a safety on defense for ECHS. Senior defensive lineman Skyler Lindsey trapped the Jackson quarterback in the end zone for the safety and ECHS took a 23-7 lead.
Jackson again answered with a touchdown, this time on a kickoff return, and the Devil lead was cut to 23-14. Thomas struck twice more before the teams entered the locker room for halftime.
He used his legs for his third rushing touchdown of the half on a five-yard sprint. And he used his arm to find senior wide receiver Brandon McKenzie for a 10-yard touchdown strike through the air.
"Michael Thomas was amazing out there tonight," Davis said.
Amazing to the tune of 181 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 18 carries and a 7-for-11 aerial attack for 120 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Sophomore running back DeMarcus Johnson added 138 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 10 carries.
The second half was a slightly different story for the Blue Devils.
"We went into the half with a great lead of 36-14, but then we did absolutely nothing in the second half," Davis said.
ECHS allowed a rushing touchdown in each of the final two quarters of the game, allowing Jackson to cut the lead to 36-28 at one point. But the Blue Devil offense responded with a 10-yard touchdown run by Johnson with around six minutes to play in the game, increasing the lead to 43-28 in favor of the Blue Devils.
Lindsey sealed the victory when he intercepted a pass with 1:50 left in the game. He finished the game with nine tackles and one safety to go along with the interception. Senior linebacker LaTrenton Bowens led the team in tackles with 13, junior linebacker Kyle Parrish added six tackles and senior defensive back Paris Wiggins also intercepted a ball.
"We feel really good about our playoff chances at 3-1 in the region," Davis said. "Now we just have to take care of business and we will be in. Tonight was a huge win for our playoff hopes. If our defense can stay strong and the offense plays like they did tonight we will have some good things happen."
Davis said this win also helped in another area, confidence.
"With this win we now see what kind of football team we are," he said. "And we see that we can win if we practice hard and stay focused."
The Blue Devils hit the road to take on No. 1-ranked Thomasville next Friday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.