Cougars ‘manhandled’ by Clarke Prep Friday

Published 1:18 pm Monday, August 30, 2010

Escambia Academy’s trip to Grove Hill Friday night went sour as the Cougars were soundly defeated 51-31 by a physical Clarke Prep Gators team.

The Cougars (1-1, 0-1) had trouble coming out of the gate as they allowed the Gators to push the ball down the field at will.

Cougars head coach Heath Gibson said his team was just torn apart by linemen every time the ball was snapped.

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“We were just manhandled at the line of scrimmage,” Gibson said. “They controlled our front four the entire night, and we were just unable to stop them from moving the ball.”

Offensively, the Cougars did not get much production in the first half as the team was able to only score six points.

Halftime was a big break for the Cougars down 38-6 as Gibson was able to improve his team’s morale and make adjustments for the third and fourth quarters.

The adjustments apparently worked as the Cougars rumbled off 25 points in the second half to make the score a little more respectable than it looked like it was going to be in the first half.

Offensively, the Cougars were to put up 339 yards of offense in part to junior running back Jaylen Henry and quarterback Michael Thompson who connected with Cameron McGhee for a 65-yard touchdown pass and catch.

Thompson finished the game 3-for-11 passing with 95 yards and 17 yards rushing.

Henry was key to the success for the Cougars as he rumbled throughout the game for 227 yards and four touchdowns in the loss.

Gibson said he told his team they needed to execute in order for them to have a chance for a win.

“I told them we had to execute properly if we wanted to win,” Gibson said. “We went inside their 30 yard line six times and came away with zero points. After halftime, they came out and did what they were supposed to do. Jaylen had a big night for us. We used his speed to get to the corner. Otherwise we did a good job with no turnovers and no penalties.”

Defensively, the Cougars had trouble holding the Gators offense back from the end zone as they allowed 51 points.

A high note for the Cougars was they were able to adjust and hold the Gators to 13 second-half points.

Leading tacklers for the Cougars were Tanner Boatwright with 13 tackles and Ethan Linam with 11.

Gibson said the defense could not get going once the ball was snapped.

“Our defense just got blown out from the point of attack,” Gibson said. “They were hitting us and knocking us four or five yards off of the ball.”

Next week, the Cougars host Jackson Academy at Bachelor Field in another region game.

Gibson said the Cougars will go back to practice this week looking to make improvements to their defense.

“We just need to improve our execution of assignments on defense,” Gibson said. “We will go back and work on tackling, and do what we can to get better. I’m going to blame this on the virus that our team had this week, but I told them that this better be the last sickness they get this season.”

The Cougars and Jackson Academy kick off next Friday at 7 p.m.

Escambia Academy fullback Clayton Dyess bulls his way for yardage last week against Sparta.|Photo by Adam Prestridge