Blue Devils fall at Saraland, 40-6

Published 11:33 am Saturday, August 24, 2013

Escambia County’s Chris Johnson tries to break the tackle of a Saraland defender in the Blue Devils’ 40-6 loss Friday night in a preseason game.

Escambia County’s Chris Johnson tries to break the tackle of a Saraland defender in the Blue Devils’ 40-6 loss Friday night in a preseason game.

SARALAND — The Escambia County High School Blue Devils’ defense couldn’t stop the Saraland Spartans’ offense Friday night in a 40-6 preseason loss on the road.

In addition, ECHS only gained 45 yards on the ground on 30 carries. When quarterback Chris Johnson had time, he threw the ball well. He threw for 100 yards and the Blue Devils’ only touchdown.

“They fought hard,” ECHS coach Lev Holly said of his team, after the game. “I have a lot of respect for Saraland. They do a remarkable job.”

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The Spartans’ offense scored on six of its first eight possessions. Saraland ran the ball well, led by Markus Long with eight carries for 65 yards and Sean Long with seven carries for 64 yards.

Saraland’s Nick Williams added five carries for 59 yards, while the Blue Devils’ leading rusher, Gaetyn Thames rushed four times for 24 yards.

The Spartans scored on their opening drive with a 9-yard run by Markus Long on a first-and-goal play, with 8:32 left in the first quarter. The kick by Cody Everette was good and Saraland led 7-0.

Johnson carried the ball for a yard on the Blue Devils’ first play from scrimmage before being sacked by Zach Woodham. Johnson completed a pass to Thames for 17 yards on a third-down play, but it wasn’t enough to pick up the first down.

Saraland scored on its next position when quarterback Jay Ward connected with John Sklopan for a 10-yard touchdown. The Everette kick was good and the Spartans took a 14-0 lead with 3:06 left in the first quarter.

In the Blue Devils’ next possession, Johnson was sacked and the ensuing drive stalled. The snap went over Johnson’s head on the punt attempt, giving Saraland the ball at the ECHS 10-yard line. Williams ran it in for a touchdown and the Spartans led 21-0 with 40 seconds left in the quarter.

Saraland added two more touchdowns in the second quarter, and led 33-0 with 5:48 left in the half.

The Blue Devils’ only scoring drive started with an 18-yard completion from Johnson to Williams from their own 29-yard line. Thames then broke an 18-yard run and Johnson threw a 34-yard pass to Darian Staples to give the Blue Devils’ first-and-goal from the Saraland 2.

After a 1-yard completion to Staples, a scrambling Johnson connected with Malcolm English for a touchdown. The extra point failed, but ECHS broke onto the scoreboard, down 33-6 with 2:06 left in the half.

The Spartans scored on their first possession of the second half on a 3-yard run by Sean Long.

“It’s time to go back to the drawing board and look at the things we did well and the things we didn’t do well and make them better,” Holly said. “I told my players to take it one day at a time. I’m proud of my kids.”