Devils stun Aggies

Published 11:39 am Saturday, November 13, 2010

Escambia County senior Marshall Rolin races past a host of Jackson defenders on a punt return late in the game Friday night.|Photo by Chandler Myers

Adversity was the 21-point deficit facing the Escambia County Blue Devils halfway through the second quarter Friday night when they got the ball back with time winding down and the No. 3 Jackson Aggies ahead 21-0 at Jackson.

The Blue Devils (9-3) responded by scoring on that drive and two more drives in the second half to pull out a 22-21 victory to advance to the quarterfinals of the AHSAA playoffs.

Early on it looked as if the Blue Devils would not be able to surpass the Aggies as they controlled the tempo of the game from the opening kickoff and scored 21 points on the Blue Devils in the first 18 minutes of the game.

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When ECHS got the ball back with a little more than 3:30 left in the second quarter, the offense woke up driving 65 yards in seven plays with quarterback Rico Stallworth rushing in from seven yards out to help the Blue Devils pull within 14 after a Tyler Nero extra point.

The Blue Devils would hold the Aggies back from the end zone to end the half and head into the locker room down 21-7.

Blue Devils head coach Mark Heaton said he told his team to fight through the tall task that faced them at the half.

“We are very blessed,” Heaton said. “We told the guys at halftime, that they just needed to keep fighting. We have faced adversity all year and they responded once again tonight.”

After halftime, it was a completely different game with the Blue Devils grabbing the momentum and never looking back.

After their first drive stalled, the Blue Devils dominated the line of scrimmage and forced the Aggies to punt after Dalvin Craft picked up one of his two sacks in the ballgame.

ECHS would take the ball and score in four plays with Stallworth hitting receiver Neiko Williams with a 37-yard pass. Following the extra point, the Blue Devils were down 21-14.

Atmore forced another Jackson punt on the next series to begin the fourth quarter.

With the ball back on their own 32, the Blue Devils began marching down the field for what would be the final scoring drive for either team.

Stallworth hit Williams on a couple of nine-yard dump passes and set up the touchdown with a 14-yard post to Carl Staples.

With first-and-goal from the two, running back Chris Smith took the ball and plowed into the end zone. Blue Devils head coach called a timeout and talked to his team and decided to go for the two-point conversion.

On the attempt, Stallworth rolled out and hit receiver Gavin Salter just inside the end zone to give Atmore a 22-21 lead.

Heaton said he knew he would go for two if his team scored.

“I knew that if we scored it would come down to a one possession game,” he said. “We talked to the guys, came up with a plan and we got it. We are just so blessed to beat a good team like this.”

Jackson would push down the field, but would punt again and Marshall Rolin would return it to the Aggies 18.

Williams would make a push for the end zone on a first-and-goal play, but coughed the ball up giving it to Jackson at the three.

The Aggies drove down the field quickly with two easy passes and set themselves up near the Atmore 20-yard line.

The drive would die and so would Jackson’s chances as Tocorian Brown would jump the corner pattern and pick off the pass in the end zone.

With the ball back, the Blue Devils killed the clock and picked up a huge 22-21 win.

Next week, the Blue Devils host Bibb County in a quarterfinals match up.

Kick off is at 7 p.m. at Herbert Barnes Stadium in Atmore.