ECHS falls in overtime
By By Adam Prestridge
The St. Paul’s Saints needed overtime to shake the Escambia County Blue Devils Friday night in a Class 5A, Region 1 standoff at Herbert Barnes Stadium.
The Blue Devils bounced back from a safety early in the fourth quarter to take a late lead when senior Douglas Oliver darted down the visitor’s sideline on a 29-yard run, which was made possible by a fumble recovery near mid-field. The score put the home team up 19-16 with just over two minutes remaining in the game.
However, St. Paul’s quarterback Jacob Coker was able to connect with Thomas Hovell on passes of 13 and 17 yards, which, combined with a questionable pass interference call, setup a David Steadman 29-yard field goal to tie the game and send it into overtime.
The Blue Devils took to the field first in overtime and were unable to score on four plays, turning the ball over on downs. Despite a penalty on the first play from scrimmage, St. Paul’s running back Jordan Huff was able to gain 15 yards on three plays and score a 2-yard touchdown for the 25-19 win, spoiling the Blue Devils’ senior night.
Saints head coach Jimmy Perry said overtime play proved to be the difference in the ballgame.
ECHS head coach Kyle Davis said despite the loss, he was pleased with the effort and desire his team showed throughout the entire game.
St. Paul’s got on the scoreboard first on its initial drive of the game when Huff scooted into the end zone from 7 yards out. Steadman added the extra point, giving the Saints an early 7-0 lead.
The Blue Devils answered right back with a score of their own when junior quarterback Rico Stallworth, who finished the night with 83 yards rushing and 90 yards passing, ran in from 10 yards out, capping off an eight play, 65 yard drive. Senior place kicker Tyler Boatwright’s extra point split the uprights, tying the game, 7-7.
The Saints bounced back with another score on their ensuing drive when Coker took the ball from under center and bulled his way in from 1 yard out. The extra point put the visitors up 14-7.
ECHS was unable to score on its next two drives and the defense held St. Paul’s at bay to head into the lockeroom at halftime down 14-7.
The Blue Devils were able to make quick work early in the third quarter as Stallworth connected with Rayvon Madison on a 65-yard strike down the home sideline on the third play of the half. The extra point just missed, but the home team had cut into the Saints’ lead, 14-13.
A miscue deep in their own territory cost the Blue Devils a safety giving St. Paul’s a 16-13 lead, but Huff coughed up the pigskin on the first play following the free kick to give ECHS the ball, which later resulted in Oliver’s 29-yard run.
“It was a heck of a ballgame,” Perry said after the game. “I thought Escambia County played real hard and I thought our kids played hard. It came down to the wire in the end with overtime; it was a lot of fun.”
Davis agreed, adding that his team played one of their best games of the season.
The Blue Devils finished the night with 240 yards of total offense, led by Stallworth. Oliver added 26 yards rushing and a touchdown on two carries and Nieko Williams had 25 yards on five carries.
ECHS travels to Baldwin County next Friday night to take on Class 6A Robertsdale to end the season. Davis said winning is key looking ahead to next season.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m.