By PAOLO GORME
News Sports Writer
Two numbers from Pat McGhee were the magic numbers for the Escambia Academy Cougars against Edgewood: 397 and 6. In 48 minutes of regulation time during the AISA Class AA semifinals Friday, Nov. 9, Pat McGhee went on an absolute tear and ran for 397 yards rushing and scored all 6 touchdowns for EA. McGhee’s performance along with the entire team’s efforts propelled the Cougars to end the season in Troy for the third straight year.
“We kept fighting through and I’m proud of them for that. Going to the state championship game is an honor for any high school football team; and for us we’re glad to get there,” Head Coach Hugh Fountain said after Friday night’s game.
McGhee’s first score was also the first of the game. An 18-yard rushing touchdown came at the 9:45 mark of the first. A bad snap on the extra point attempt turned into a 2-point conversion attempt by Chase Bell was unsuccessful. The score was 6-0 throughout the first quarter. The next touchdown of the night was at the 9:48 mark of the second quarter by McGhee that was from 5 yards out. The 2-point conversion attempt was no good and the Cougars were up 12-0 going into halftime.
The second half was filled with touchdowns left and right. In the third quarter with 9:45 left, EA fumbled on a punt return and the ball was recovered by the Wildcats at the 16-yard line of EA. The Cougars dodged a bullet after the Wildcats were unable to capitalize on the turnover.
A few minutes after, EA put the ball on the ground again at their own 34-yard line and the Wildcats took over. Quarterback Alex Johnson was able to score on a quarterback sneak from a yard out. The extra point was no good and the score was 12-6 with 5:23 left in the third.
After the ensuing kickoff, the Cougars answered quickly from 39 yards out. The score came from none other than Pat McGhee. Sam Martin’s extra point try was good and the score was now 19-6. EA was able to retain possession of the ball after Edgewood could not get anything going on their offensive possession. McGhee raced to the end zone from 61 yards out with a little less than 4 minutes left in the third. Martin was good on the extra point and the score was 26-6. Edgewood’s running back Kolby Potts answered to McGhee’s touchdown and was able to find the end zone from 80 yards away. The extra point was blocked and the score was 26-12 with 3:30 on the clock.
On EA’s offensive possession, they were forced to punt after not being able to get a first down. Kolby Potts found the end zone once again but this time from 26 yards out. The extra point try was good and the Cougars’ lead was cut to 7. McGhee opened up the scoring in the fourth quarter with a 5-yard rushing touchdown. The extra point was blocked, however. The score was now 32-19. Roughly 4 minutes passed and Alex Johnson scored for the Wildcats on a 1-yard run. EA blocked the extra point attempt and the score was 32-25.
Within 10 seconds, McGhee took it 65 yards from the line of scrimmage to score his sixth touchdown of the night to increase EA’s lead to 39-25 after the extra point by Martin. Twenty-five seconds after that, Potts scored on a 5-yard rush to try to keep the Wildcats in the game. The 2-point conversion was no good and the score was 39-31 with 5:26 remaining in the game.
The Cougars survived late scares within those 5 minutes because the Wildcats were in range to tie the game. EA came out victorious and lives to play for one last game.
The Class AA State Championship game will be held at Veterans Memorial Stadium at Troy University Friday at 3:30 p.m. The Cougars would love to have everyone’s support at the game as they take on the Autauga Academy Generals for the third straight year in the championship game. Go, Cougars!