Cougars nipped on road
By By Matthew Nascone
The Cougars Battle Royale Friday night in Luverne was a battle of halves. The Crenshaw Christian Academy Cougars, led by running back Jake Page, ran all over Escambia Academy in the first half for a 14-0 halftime lead.
The EA Cougars (0-1) came out of the locker room for the second half on a mission and dominated Crenshaw. EA shut down Page and did not allow Crenshaw to sniff the end zone in the second half. But the final score was 14-6 in favor of Crenshaw
"I had to raise my tone with them in the locker room and challenge them to come out and play tough in the second half," EA head coach Heath Gibson said. "And they stepped up to the challenge and played hard in the second half. I was pleased with the effort they showed. They let it all hang out in the second half."
Penalties at key points in the game stifled the EA attack. Down 14-6 in the fourth quarter, senior fullback Ethan Brooks busted through two tackles and rumbled for 13 yards to the Crenshaw one-yard-line.
EA had a false start called, moving them to the six-yard-line and three plays later on fourth down the Cougars were called for an illegal substitution, pushing them back another five yards.
The Escambia Cougars failed to score and Crenshaw took over with four minutes to go in the game, but they did not move the ball and EA got another crack at the tie. With no timeouts left, the Escambia Cougars were forced to go to the air and they couldn't crack the goal line, losing 14-6.
"Penalties really cost us some big plays," Gibson said.
Early on it was not penalties, but lack of ball movement that cost the Escambia Cougars scoring opportunities. They did not get a first down until near the end of the first quarter. And the team did not get another first down until the second half. In the mean time, Crenshaw quarterback Pete King threw a touchdown pass and Page ran 45 yards for another touchdown to give Crenshaw a 14-0 lead going to the half.
EA came out of the gates in the second half and marched down the field for a score. Junior tailback Kawetta Coon rushed for 29 yards on the drive and sophomore quarterback Jon Dean punched it in from three yards out. The snap on the extra point attempt was botched and the pass for two points was dropped, leaving the score at 14-6.
Dean was 5-for-9 through the air and he rushed 15 times for 75 yards and one touchdown. Brooks rushed 12 times for 43 yards and Coon had 10 carries for 27 yards.
Defensively, junior Blaine Garrett led the team with eight tackles, Dean had six tackles and Brooks and sophomore Cameron McGhee each had four tackles. Freshman Nick Flowers had an interception.
Crenshaw had short bursts of good plays, but never got close to the end zone again. EA was able to pick up some first downs and when they failed to pick one up, junior punter Jordan Kline booted the ball for a 39.3-yard average.
"Kline did a good job for us when we couldn't get that first down," Gibson said.
Gibson said he knows what the Cougars need to do to grab a victory next Friday.
"Basically we need to cut down on the mental mistakes and the penalties," he said. "And I told these guys to put this one in the past and keep their heads up. We just need to get ready for the next week."
The Cougars home opener is Aug. 31 against Patrician Academy at 7:30 p.m. EA will have to bring their 'A' game against a team that returns 14 starters from an 8-3 team.