Cougars gash Sparta

Published 11:01 am Monday, October 1, 2007

By By Matthew Nascone
Escambia Academy head coach Heath Gibson and the Cougars took a page from the Auburn Tigers Friday night at Bachelor Field.
The Cougars (2-4, 2-3) defeated the Sparta Academy Warriors (3-3, 2-3) for the fifth straight time, according to Gibson, as they won 14-7 on Homecoming night in Canoe.
Senior varsity cheerleader Anna Lisa McGhee was named Homecoming Queen at halftime and the Cougars used tough-nosed defense and a bruising rushing attack to take down the Warriors.
"That was an unbelievable win," Gibson said. "The guys played hard and the intensity on the field was great. The biggest part of the win was how the offensive linemen opened up the holes for our running backs and really blew it up inside."
The Cougars ran a spread offense in the first quarter. Out of the spread sophomore quarterback Jon Dean connected with freshman wide receiver Nick Flowers for a 30-yard touchdown strike through the air. The PAT attempt was good, giving EA a 7-0 advantage with 11:06 to go in the second quarter.
"We wanted to get Jon one-on-one with the cornerback on the play action," Gibson said. "And the corner bit on the run and Jon threw a beautiful pass on the money to the end zone for Nick Flowers."
Dean finished the game with 45 yards rushing on 14 carries and was 2-for-3 through the air with 33 yards and one touchdown.
The only other score of the first half was a 69-yard touchdown throw from junior Sparta quarterback Taylor Brown to senior wide receiver J.R. Williams on the next play from scrimmage.
EA turned the ball over with 46 seconds to play in the half and Brown passed the ball 34 yards to the one-yard line, but the Warriors could not punch the ball in before the half. Sparta head coach Michael Sims said the quarterback sneak from the EA one-yard line that failed was about like the rest of the day.
"We came up a little short tonight," Sims said. "We had a chance to go up there at the end of the half and we couldn't quite get it in. We moved the ball well out there, but we couldn't punch it in from the strike zone."
Sims said he will have his team ready for their next game.
"Not punching it in is a coaching thing and nothing to do with the players," he said. "We will have them ready and we will get three big wins in the near future."
The Warriors racked up 200 yards of total offense in the first half, but only 85 yards in the second half.
"We opened the game in a zone to try and read the quarterback, but we switched to man coverage in the second half," Gibson said. "We took more gambles with the man-to-man coverage, but it paid off in the end. We took their quarterback out of the game with the coverage."
Gibson couldn't say enough about the overall play of the defense.
"They really played big for us and our secondary stepped up and did what they have been taught to do," he said. "We got a lot of pressure on the quarterback in the second half."
That pressure garnered two sacks, two tipped passes and seven incomplete passes. Junior defensive lineman Blake Kirk contributed the two sacks and Flowers and Dean had the tipped passes.
"Blake had two sacks for us at key moments in the game," Gibson said. "One was when Sparta was driving on our 40-yard line and he fought off a block to get the sack and the other one was with about one minute to go in the game and he blew through the line for the sack."
Junior running back Kaweta Coon led the Cougar offense in the second half with 76 yards on eight carries, including a 36-yarder and a 24-yarder to set up the second score for EA.
Senior fullback Ethan Brooks punched the ball in from the Sparta one-yard line and the PAT was good again for a 14-7 Cougar lead.
"Kaweta Coon stepped up for us tonight and hit the holes freed up for him by the blockers," Gibson said. "And Ethan Brooks ran the ball hard in the second half. Brooks did a good job of reading the defense and being our leader out there on both sides of the ball."
Coon led the Cougars with 116 yards on the ground on 12 carries. Brooks had 38 yards rushing for the game, but 43 yards in the second half. He ran for negative-five yards in the first half on three carries and 43 yards on nine carries in the second half.
The Cougars had 240 yards total offense and two turnovers.
Gibson said the Cougars were fazed a little bit in the first half by the Homecoming atmosphere, but once it wore off the Cougars got down to business.
"We came out a little flat, but we overcame the Homecoming buzz," he said. "We seemed to be caught up in the spectacle of Homecoming in the first half, but we also knew it was Sparta and we did not want to lose this game."
Up next for the Cougars is Senior Night against Evangel Christian Academy Oct. 4. The game marks the final home contest for EA in 2007. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Bachelor Field.

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