ECHS loses to UMS-Wright

Published 12:06 am Saturday, September 21, 2013

Escambia County quarterback Chris Johnson goes back to pass as Gaetyn Thames (6) and other Blue Devils block the UMS-Wright defense Friday night.

Escambia County quarterback Chris Johnson goes back to pass as Gaetyn Thames (6) and other Blue Devils block the UMS-Wright defense Friday night.

“We just got to keep working on us.” That was Escambia County High School head coach Lev Holly’s message to his players after a 48-14 loss to the No. 1-ranked UMS-Wright Bulldogs on Friday night in Atmore.

The Blue Devils drew first blood in Friday’s region matchup, scoring on the game’s opening drive after an 87-yard pass from Chris Johnson put ECHS in the Bulldog red zone. The Blue Devils capped off the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run from Gaetyn Thames to jump to an early 6-0 lead.

The Bulldogs answered on the ensuing drive, punching the ball in from 3 yards out to take a 7-6 lead. One play later, ECHS’s Devante Dailey recovered his own muffed kickoff and made up for the mistake with a 97-yard touchdown return. A quick run up the middle by Johnson gave the Devils the two-point conversion on the next play and put the Blue Devils ahead 14-7 with 1:34 to go in the opening quarter.

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Despite the strong start, the Devils would not find the end zone again and the momentum shifted as UMS-Wright hung 34 unanswered points on ECHS.

Holly said he would use the loss as a learning tool for his young team.

“They’re obviously a very good team,” he said of the top-ranked Bulldogs. “I told our guys to just give us all they had and they did that. I’m proud of them and we’ll use this and learn from it.”

Holly also said his team would have to work on fundamentals, after penalties and turnovers left the Bulldogs with great field position throughout the game.
UMS-Wright tacked two points onto the scoreboard with a safety on the last play of the first quarter after backing the Blue Devils up against their own goal line. One drive later, the Bulldogs leaned on their kicking game to add points after being stopped short by the Devils’ defense.

Following a failed fourth down conversion by ECHS, UMS-Wright was able to put together another strong drive that ended with an 11-yard touchdown run, giving the Bulldogs a 27-14 lead with 3:22 to go in the half.

The Devils were forced to punt once before halftime and the Bulldogs began to impose their will, taking advantage of a bad ECHS snap and recovering the fumble on the Blue Devil 7. Two plays later, the Bulldogs connected for a touchdown pass and went into the locker room up 35-14.

Holly said his team showed some flashes of brilliance in the second half, including Johnson connecting with Devante Williams on a 47-yard reception and Thames breaking for a 68-yard touchdown run that was called back for a holding penalty.

“We’re going to work on fundamentals Monday,” Holly said. “We had too many penalties and that hurt us. But we’re going to use this to get better for next week. We’re young and we’re learning and we’re going to be all right.”

Next week, the Blue Devils, 0-4 overall and 0-3 in region play, will face Faith Academy on the road in Mobile. Game time is set for 7 p.m.