Cougars fall 34-28 in overtime

Published 9:21 am Monday, September 26, 2011

Escambia Academy Cougars Braxton Chastang (22) and Dustin Wilson (99) attempt to block a Faith Academy punt during their overtime loss to the Patrician Academy Saints on Friday night in Canoe.|Photo by AJ Beachy

It was a game of turnovers, momentum shifts and plays no one saw coming Friday night in Canoe as the Escambia Academy Cougars fell short in a heartbreaking 34-28 overtime loss to the Saints of Patrician Academy.

The Saints struck early in Friday’s matchup, getting in the end zone off a first-quarter touchdown run to lead the Cougars 6-0 after a missed conversion attempt.

Patrician quickly followed up on their early success with a 12-yard ground score to jump ahead 14-0 after a 2-point rushing conversion.

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Late in the second quarter the Cougars finally made a scoring dent with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Michael Thompson to running back Jaylen Henry to make the game a one-score affair, but the Saints were not done on offense and found the end zone once more in the first half with a touchdown pass of their own.

Following a first half dominated by the Saints, EA found themselves down by 13 at half time, trailing Patrician 20-7.

Things continued to look dismal for EA in the second half as the Cougars got off to a rocky start on offense, giving up an interception on their first drive, but the Cougar defense would reciprocate with a pick from Dustin Wilson to give EA the ball back at the Saints’ 28-yard line.

The turnovers continued as Henry coughed up the ball on the ensuing Cougar drive for Patrician to pick up at the EA 44-yard line

The Saints seemed poised to capitalize on the momentum shift, hooking up for a long pass on fourth down before Henry found a way to strip the ball in the end zone giving EA a first down on their own 20-yard line.

Despite the defensive success for EA, the turnovers continued as the Saints almost immediately picked off Thompson and sprinted almost 40 yards for the touchdown, extending their lead to 28-7.

What EA head coach Heath Gibson said on the Cougar sideline is anyone’s guess, but EA found new life late in the third quarter, scoring off a 90-yard kick off return from Wesley Steadham, a 25-yard interception from Reid Bell and a 34-yard pass from Thompson to Steadham to tie things up at 28 all late in the game, forcing the contest into overtime.

Despite the late-game heroics the Cougars would be stopped short, once again losing the ball on a fumble inside the Saints’ 10-yard line. Two plays later Patrician found the end zone on the ground to win a thriller in overtime.

Gibson said his team’s effort spoke for itself.

“I’m just proud of my team. They played great tonight,” Gibson said. “This was tough one to lose, but we get better every week.”

Gibson said the close loss will have to be put behind the Cougars as they prepare for a tough South Choctaw team.

“We’re going to bounce back,” he said. “We have to go after South Choctaw and we’ve just got to recover and go after them.”

Following Friday’s nail biter, the Cougars (3-3, 1-2) will hit the road to face the South Choctaw Rebels Friday, Oct. 1. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.