EA clinches playoff spot

Published 11:56 am Monday, October 15, 2007

By By Matthew Nascone
Tank Mitchell bombed the Wilcox Academy Wildcats Friday night for 179 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns in the Cougars' 15-12 victory in Camden.
Mitchell scored the first points for the Cougars with eight minutes to go in the third quarter when junior defensive lineman Nick Carlin caused Wilcox running back Jason Ray to fumble and Mitchell scooped the ball up and sped 53 yards for the end zone.
Junior placekicker Dustin Brown's PAT attempt was true and the Cougars trailed 12-7.
"Tank had a huge game for us," EA head coach Heath Gibson said. "He had a big night on offense, defense and special teams."
Mitchell scored the Cougars' only other touchdown as well. He caught a screen pass from sophomore quarterback Jon Dean and scampered 29 yards for the end zone to give EA a 13-12 lead with 6:56 remaining on the clock for the game. He caught another ball on the drive to set up his score. Junior tailback Kaweta Coon added the two-point conversion for the final score of 15-12.
The Cougars (4-4, 3-3 AISA Class AA, Region 1) could not find the end zone in the first half and Gibson said penalties and a good defensive performance from the Wildcats was the reason. The best opportunity for EA in the first half was after Dean blocked a punt and the Cougars got the ball on the Wilcox 15-yard line.
But the second half was a different story for Gibson and the Cougars.
"I told them at halftime that something great was going to happen and in the second half Tank ran that fumble back for a touchdown," he said.
Mitchell finished the game with six tackles, one fumble recovery for a touchdown, three receptions for 52 yards and a touchdown and 74 yards on special teams. Dean was a different quarterback in the second half, completing 5-of-8 passes for 94 yards and one touchdown after a 1-for-7 performance for 10 yards in the first half.
"Jon had a real good night," Gibson said. "We knew we had to throw on them to win the game and he executed the game plan for us to win."
Dean also rushed 12 times for 48 yards and tied for the team lead with 13 tackles on defense. Senior linebacker Ethan Brooks also posted 13 tackles. Carlin and freshman defensive back Nick Flowers added eight tackles apiece. Junior defensive back Jordan Kline had a fumble recovery.
Junior running back Blaine Garrett had 67 yards rushing on four carries and Brooks had 22 yards on seven carries.
Wilcox opened the scoring in the second quarter on a touchdown run by Ray. A missed PAT gave the Wildcats a 6-0 lead. Ray sprinted for a 60-yard touchdown with 4:10 to go in the first half for a 12-0 WA lead.
The win clinches the No. 4 seed for the playoffs in AISA Class AA, Region 1 for the Cougars.
"This was one of the biggest wins in a couple of years for us because of how slow we started and how young we are," Gibson said. "Teams kept underestimating us all year and we kept scrapping and expecting to win and big things happened for us."

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