By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Escambia County High School rallied past a determined Clarke County defense in the second half last Friday, October 5, to post a 34-12 win that puts ECHS on the verge of its most successful season in 7 years.
The win not only gives the Blue Devils a 4-2 overall mark and a 3-1 record in Class 4A, Region 1 competition, but almost guarantees the team its first break-even season since 2011, when ECHS went 5-5, and puts them on the threshold of their first postseason appearance since 2010.
“It’s a big week for us; if we can win this week, we’re in the playoffs,” Coach Rico Jackson said. “But we’ve got to play in Andalusia this week, then UMS-Wright [top ranked among the state’s Class 4A teams] comes here. Plus, we’ve got to play Williamson. It won’t be easy, but it’s there.”
The Devils were able to take a 12-6 lead into the halftime locker room against Clarke. The first points came from the defense, when Dezmun Crenshaw grabbed a Bulldogs fumble and rambled 65 yards for a touchdown. Lue Williams, who had 5 catches for 93 yards and also scored a 2-point conversion, later converted a screen pass from quarterback Jordan Patterson into a 29-yard TD.
Both PAT attempts were unsuccessful, and a second-period Clarke County score cut the ECHS lead in half.
The home team scored early in the second half to tie the game, but Escambia followed with 22 unanswered points. ECHS has now put 190 points on the board, the team’s highest scoring output since the 2013 squad scored 207 during a 2-8 campaign.
Patterson, who was 8-of-17 passing for 200 yards (2 TDs, no interceptions) and also ran for 59 yards, went in from the 11-yard line in the third period to give ECHS a lead it would not relinquish. The team’s defensive unit smothered all attempts by the Bulldogs to get back into the game.
“We played good defense all night,” Jackson said. “They’ve played well all year, and I’m really proud of them. Actually, we didn’t play that bad offensively in the first half, but in the second half we made the plays when it was time to make the plays (two first-half drives ended with fumbles). Clarke County has a really good defense, really physical, but our kids stood up to the challenge.”
Joining Patterson and Williams in providing the offensive spark were Malik Brown (60 yards rushing, 2 pass receptions for 63 yards) and his younger brother, Craig Brown (40 yards rushing, including a 10-yard touchdown). Jabryce Hooks had a 53-yard TD catch.
Defensively, William Bradley led the way with 15 tackles (11 solo), including one for a loss, and he forced 2 fumbles; Khalil Askew was in on 11 tackles, and Crenshaw had another fumble recovery to go with his score. Charles Lambert recorded 8 tackles, including a sack, and forced a fumble; Virgil Peoples had 6 tackles, and Trevon Lambert came up with 4 tackles, including 1 for a loss, as well as a pass deflection.
Both the offense and defense will have to be in sync again this week, as the Blue Devils travel to play another set of Bulldogs. Andalusia is 4-2 (2-2 in region play) after a 13-6 decision over Williamson, which reportedly moved the ball at will but could get into the end zone only once. (Most of the ECHS players will also get their first experience playing on artificial turf.)
“Andalusia has a good team, and we have to go there to play them, but we’re undefeated on the road,” pointed out the ECHS coach. “It won’t be easy, but we can win this game if we do what we need to do.”