EA wins 32-30

Published 9:18 am Monday, October 24, 2011

Escambia Academy Cougar Austin McGhee runs for the end zone as Fort Dale Academy Eagle Chase Widdon gives chase.|Photo by Ashley Vansant of the Greenville Advocate

Escambia Academy running back Jaylen Henry proved why teams routinely hone in on the Cougar backfield Friday night.

Henry finished EA’s 32-30 victory over Fort Dale Academy with an impressive 254 yards and 5 touchdowns on 17 carries, catapulting the Cougars to 7-3 on the year.

EA head coach Heath Gibson said his team’s overall effort was admirable, but added some injuries must be addressed before next week’s show down with rivals Monroe Academy.

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“We played well,” Gibson said. “There’s just a lot of things we’re going to go work on, like dealing with injuries. We had a lot of kids banged up. Fort Dale’s really physical and we’re just glad to get away with a win when we’re playing a good team like that.”

Regardless of how good Fort Dale may be, there efforts were not enough to stifle the explosive EA offense.

Henry found the end zone on the Cougars’ first offensive play with a 37-yard touchdown, putting EA up 6-0 early in the game following a missed extra point.

Fort Dale responded with a score of their own, but Henry more than made up for the defensive miscue, repeating his earlier success on the ground with a 35-yard touchdown to give the Cougars a 12-7 edge.

Once again, Fort Dale found a way to stay competitive, putting points on the board to gain a 14-12 lead. Henry again bridged the scoring gap for the Cougars with 73-yard touchdown, giving him three on the night. Another 5-yard score by Henry gave EA the 24-14 lead heading into the half.

A quick Fort Dale score early in the second half was answered again by Henry with an 81-yard run to “answer the call” Gibson said. The two-point conversion run by quarterback Michael Thompson gave the Cougars a 32-21 lead.

Fort Dale found some late success with a field goal and a touchdown pass to pull within 2 points of the Cougar lead with under 4 minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

It all came down to an onside kick recovered by Fort Dale, but it would be the EA defense who would stand tall in the end, keeping the Eagles out of the end zone and securing the Cougars’ seventh win of the year.

Gibson said, following the close win, this week’s game preparation for Monroe Academy will focus on staying healthy and recuperating for possibly the toughest squad the Cougars will face in the regular season.

“We’ve just got to get well,” Gibson said. “We have a bunch of scrapes, bumps and bruises. We’ve played 10 straight weeks now of solid football teams. We haven’t haf an off week yet. We’ve got to be ready to play Friday night. We’ve just got to go back to work, and try to stay healthy at the same time.”

The Cougars (7-3, 4-2) will meet the number 5-ranked Monroe Academy Volunteers Friday night in Canoe at 7 p.m.