Cougars downed 23-13 by Jackson

Published 11:38 pm Thursday, September 1, 2011

EA Cougar Cameron McGhee makes a tackle on the first play of the game during the Cougars' loss to Jackson Academy Thursday night in Jackson.|Photo by Chandler Myers

Another sluggish effort by the Escambia Academy Cougars’ offense led to another disappointing defeat, with the Jackson Academy Eagles coming away with a 23-13 victory Thursday night in Jackson.

The Cougars (1-2, 0-1) fought an uphill battle throughout most of the game, but bad breaks on offensive drives kept Escambia Academy from keeping the game closer.

“I’m disappointed,” Cougars head coach Heath Gibson said. “Jackson has a good team, but I felt like we had the breaks to win this game. We just have to somehow establish a running game. I felt like coming into the season that we had a strong running game, but we don’t have one right now. We need to go back and look at film to figure out what’s wrong.”

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The first quarter was a battle for both teams as neither team could get past the 50-yard line.

In the second quarter, Jackson took the momentum and ran with it as they jumped out to a 16-0 lead.

On their first touchdown, quarterback Darrell Williams followed his blockers into the endzone from two yards out as Jackson pulled ahead 7-0.

After the Eagles’ score, things went from bad to worse as two drives later, the Cougars took a safety on a bad snap to punter Jarrett Hadley that led him to take a knee in the endzone.

Later in the quarter, the Eagles pushed down the field with some big pass plays including an 11-yard touchdown pass from Williams to receiver Matthew Jordan that put Jackson on top 16-0.

With time winding down, the Cougars made the most of their final series of the half as they opened up their passing game.

Cougars quarterback Michael Thompson hit four consecutive passes to move EA down to the Eagles four-yard line. WIth under 10 seconds left, Thompson hit his fifth consecutive pass with a seven-yard strike to receiver Wesley Steadham that pulled the Cougars within nine points at halftime.

After the half, the Cougars and Eagles battled back-and-forth in the third quarter with the Cougars scoring on their second series in the third quarter.

The score would come 10-play drive that would start with a sack, but end with another Thompsn-Steadham connection. The pass came on a five-yard dump to Steadham who pushed his way into the corner of the endzone. Following a blocked extra point, the Cougars trailed 16-13.

Thompson would finish the game 17-for-24 with 163 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Steadham was the Cougars’ leading receiver with nine receptions for 98 yards and two touchdowns.

Jackson Academy put the game away early in the fourth quarter with a 51-yard pass from Williams to Sawyer Donald that set the Eagles up at the Cougars seven. It would take four downs, but the Eagles would push in from one yard out as Williams scored his second rushing touchdown of the game to put the Eagles ahead 23-13.

The Cougars would push into Eagles territory one final time late in the fourth quarter looking to close the gap, but on fourth and five from the Eagles’ 20, Thompson’s pass would fall incomplete giving Jackson the win.

Offensively, the Cougars finished the contest with 239 yards of offense. Uncharacteristcally, 163 of those yards came through the air, with the running game securing only 76 yards.

Taking the time see the film and find the problems will be important, Gibson said.

“After we evaluate film, I’ll know a lot more about where our offensive line is having problems,” he said. “Right now, the problem is our guys just not knowing their assignments.”

Despite the lack of a rushing attack, the Cougars are continuing to post strong numers in the passing game.

Thompson and his receivers deserve credit, Gibson said.

“He’s doing a great job,” he said. “He’s throwing the ball well, and our receivers are doing a great job of catching it. He’s developing tremendously overtime.”

The Cougars are on the road next week traveling to Marengo Academy. Kick off is Friday at 7 p.m.