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Cougars' last play golden

By By Matthew Nascone
Senior fullback Joe Drew will always remember his last carry for the Escambia Academy Cougars. He took the ball in from three yards out as time expired in the final game of his career in a Cougar uniform.
The game may have been a 27-6 loss to AISA Class 3A Faith Academy (9-1), but Drew and his teammates will always remember that last time he rumbled into the end zone on short yardage. Friday night was Senior Night for seven football players, two cheerleaders and Erin "Bobby Boucher" Burkette.
Burkette was given the Bobby Boucher Award for her tireless service as the football team's water girl all season long. The football game was all Rams in the first half, and all Cougars in the second half.
"I think going into the Faith game is always tough," EA head coach Heath Gibson said. "Because they are such a big school and they have been the dominant team in AISA for so many years. I told our seniors they did the best thing we could do this year, they got over the fear of playing Faith and I feel like we outplayed them in the second half. But we just didn't come out in the first half ready to play."
Faith opened the scoring on their second play from scrimmage in the first half by taking the ball 75 yards on one running play for the touchdown. They added 20 more points for a 27-0 halftime lead.
The Cougars (5-5) came out in the second half and scored the only points of the half on Drew's touchdown run as time expired.
The speech Gibson gave his players at halftime may have had something to do with the outcome of the game.
"I told them they have 24 minutes left in their careers and I wanted them to give it everything they got and leave it all on the field," Gibson said.
It may sound like something from Remember the Titans or Friday Night Lights, but obviously it worked. The first half may not have been Cougar football, but Gibson said the second half was patented Cougar football.
"I told them they would regret it if they didn't give it all they got," Gibson said. "And they responded, played hard and I couldn't have asked for a better second half out of our bunch. It was a great way to go out, especially scoring there right at the end."
Drew rushed for 90 yards and one touchdown on 28 carries and led the Cougars on the defensive side with nine tackles. Senior linebacker Ethan Brooks added nine tackles as well and freshman corner back Tank Mitchell and freshman linebacker Cameron McGhee contributed eight tackles.
Senior quarterback Cody Norton rushed for 14 yards on five carries, threw for 22 yards on two passes and recorded six tackles on defense.