James torches Aggie defensive front

Published 11:29 am Monday, October 8, 2007

By By Matthew Nascone
The Escambia County defense showed the crowd at Legion Field at Simpkins Stadium in Jackson the epitome of a goal line stand Friday night in the Blue Devils' 25-7 victory over the Aggies.
The Blue Devils could not turn an interception by ECHS junior defensive back Norvel Walker into a clock-draining drive, as freshman quarterback Rico Stallworth fumbled on the very next play with 3:30 left in the third quarter.
The Aggies were set up with a first and goal on the Atmore 10-yard line, trailing 12-7. JHS gained eight yards on the first two plays, but the ECHS defense stuffed the next two runs for no gain and negative two yards for the turnover on downs.
"They got it first and goal and we got them to third and short, stuffed and fourth and short, stuffed. It wasn't even close," ECHS head coach Kyle Davis said.
On offense, Atmore senior running back Katral James took a little time to find the end zone, but once he found it once, he could not be stopped.
James compiled more than 300 all-purpose yards, as he rumbled for 212 yards and four touchdowns on 20 carries on the ground in the Blue Devils' shellacking of Jackson. He also had 48 yards receiving on three catches, 15 yards passing and 30 return yards for a total of 305 yards.
"I talked to ya'll earlier this week about how this might be our breakout game offensively and Katral toted that rock tonight and had four touchdowns," Davis said. "Our screen game was also working and Rico Stallworth had a heck of a football game tonight."
Atmore (5-1, 4-0 AHSAA Class 4A, Region 1) stalled on the opening drive of the game, while Jackson quarterback Broderick Washington connected with wide receiver Audrey Clarke for a 49-yard touchdown pass on their opening attempt.
The PAT was good and Jackson held an early 7-0 lead, but that would be the only points the Aggies would score on the night.
"After that first touchdown today our defense looked like the same old defense, we were doing what we do best," Davis said. "We caused a lot of turnovers and had tipped balls. It was just an all around good football game I think."
Atmore took the ball 70 yards on their next drive, punctuated by a 15-yard touchdown run by James. Senior placekicker Elliot Faircloth's PAT was no good and Jackson held a slight 7-6 advantage.
Jackson took that lead into the half, but ECHS outscored Jackson 19-0 in the second half, which was part of 25 unanswered points for the Blue Devils. Atmore's defense allowed only 108 yards after allowing the Aggies to go 78 yards on their opening drive of the game. The second half was a completely different game yardage wise for the Aggies, as the Blue Devils' defense held JHS to 24 yards and forced three interceptions and two fumbles.
Jackson head coach John Blackmon said his team had opportunities to win.
"We had good opportunities to win the football game, but we just turned the ball over too many times," Blackmon said. "We didn't take advantage of the opportunities they gave us. I am very disappointed we lost that game, it was a big game, but we have one next week and we will keep fighting for a playoff berth right now."
The halftime lead disintegrated on Blackmon in a hurry.
"I thought at halftime we were in pretty good shape since we got the ball, but (Atmore) did a good job against us defensively," he said. "We got the opportunity, but they didn't break and we were not able to get in the end zone. Hats off to them, they did a great job."
Davis said the offensive explosion was inevitable.
"We knew we could (score points) and we had something going on our first drive and just shot ourselves in the foot," Davis said. "We had a lot of yards on offense. We put up over 400 yards of offense last year against them and we had over 400 this year. It was about time and hopefully we can carry that into Thomasville next week."
James scored from one-yard out for the 12-7 lead after another missed PAT from Faircloth with 5:12 to go in the third quarter. James also connected with senior wide receiver Josh McCants on the previous play for 15 yards.
McCants finished the game with four receptions for 52 yards. Stallworth completed three passes, two to McCants and one to James for 72 yards on the drive. He finished the game with 107 yards through the air and completed 7-of-11 passes. He also had 13 yards on the ground.
Following a fumble recovered by junior cornerback Cody Sprinkle, James sped through the Jackson defense untouched for his second 15-yard touchdown of the night and third overall. A failed two-point conversion led to an 18-7 Atmore lead.
Sprinkle finished the game with three tackles, an interception, one fumble forced and recovered on the same play and two pass breakups.
James scored his final touchdown of the evening on a 45-yard scamper for the end zone with 3:06 remaining in the game. Faircloth nailed the PAT and Atmore led 25-7.
Senior defensive end Jarrod Jefferson and junior linebacker Eric Coley led the team with four tackles and one sack apiece. Eighth grader Nate Davis added four tackles, one forced fumble and one recovered fumble.
Atmore hosts No. 4 Thomasville Friday in what Davis calls the biggest game of the year. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Herbert Barnes Stadium.

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