ECHS falls to 0-2

Published 6:21 pm Monday, September 8, 2008

By By Adam Prestridge
The Escambia County Blue Devils' defense is sure to have nightmares of Vigor tailback Kendall Houston until next week's Class 5A, Region 1 bout with Faith Academy on the road.
Houston, 5-foot-9, 210 pounds, chalked up 163 yards on 20 carries as the Wolves' O-line, which averages 300 pounds, assisted him in impressing major college scouts as he led ninth-ranked Vigor to a 54-22 victory over the Blue Devils.
Blue Devils head coach Kyle Davis agreed that Vigor's offensive line manhandled his defense.
According to Stevenson, Mississippi State coaches were in the stands Friday night to watch Southern Miss prospect Houston and fullback Jalston Fowler, who has been extended an offer by South Carolina, as they dazzled their fans.
Vigor (2-0, 1-0) took the opening drive 74 yards for the first score of the contest on a 13-yard pass from Keith Ray to Mervin Shinn and a two-point conversion. The Blue Devils (0-2, 0-1) answered right back on the ensuing drive with a nine-play, 67-yard drive, which was capped off by a 15-yard pass play from sophomore quarterback Rico Stallworth to senior running back Michael Thomas. Thomas ran in from one yard out to add the two-point conversion to tie the score, 8-8 with 2:26 remaining in the first quarter.
Escambia County's defense forced a turnover on Vigor's next drive when junior linebacker Bryant Chambers picked off Ray's pass on the first play of the drive. The Blue Devils' offense was unable to capitalize on the turnover as freshman place kicker Neiko Wilkson missed a 31-yard field goal.
Four plays into the second quarter, Houston scored his first touchdown of the night on an 11-yard gallop. The two-point conversion was good giving the visitor's the lead, 16-8.
The Wolves then scored 20 unanswered points on runs of 8 yards and 3 yards by Fowler and an 11-yard run by Houston.
Just before the half, the Blue Devils' offense showed some signs of life as Stallworth launched a 51-yard pass to junior receiver Kingston Craft in full stride who hauled it in for the score. Wilkson's kick was good to put the home team within three touchdowns, 36-15. Junior Jon Dean returned the drive's kickoff 86 yards for the touchdown, but the score was called back following a holding penalty.
ECHS was plagued with turnovers and penalties in the second half as Vigor continued its offensive onslaught with three more scores. ECHS managed to score late in the fourth quarter when junior running back Douglas Oliver bulled his way into the end zone from 5 yards out. Wilkson's kick was true as the Blue Devils fell to the Wolves, 54-22.
The Blue Devils finished the game with eight turnovers. Special teams proved to be the teams "Achilles' heel."
ECHS finished the game with 210 yards of total offense. Stallworth finished the game 8 of 16 for 102 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Blue Devils' offense. He also finished with 35 yards rushing on 12 carries.
Craft led Escambia County's receiving corps with three catches for 71 yards. Thomas had 18 yards receiving and a touchdown and Dean added 11 yards. Thomas also finished the game with 44 yards rushing and Oliver had 29 yards on the ground and one touchdown.
Despite the loss, Davis believes his team is on the cusp of pulling out an upset over a highly touted or ranked team.
The Blue Devils will travel to Mobile next Friday night to take on Faith Academy in another regional contest. Davis said his team has to put the loss to Vigor behind them and focus on Faith in order to come home with its first win of the season.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

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