By JOSH FRYE
The AISA number three ranked Escambia Academy Cougars opened football season on a high note after last year’s heartbreaking end. The Cougars defeated AISA’s number one ranked team, the Pike Liberal Arts Patriots last Friday (August 20), 42-26. Friday’s meeting marked the first meeting of the two schools since 2015, when EA defeated Pike, 36-7.
The contest did not start in the Cougars’ favor as Pike drove downfield early, scoring on a 14-yard run. With 7 minutes left in the first quarter and down by 1 score, EA quarterback Landon Sims put the Cougars on the board by way of a 7-yard touchdown run. After a Sims’ extra point kick, EA led, 7-6 at the end of the first.
The Patriots started off the second quarter scoring with a 1-yard run with just over 6 minutes remaining. EA’s Bubba Nettles responded to the Pike score with a 2-yard rush and the Cougars led 13-12. The Patriots however, refused to go down without a fight and closed out the half with a final second score to take the lead, 19-13.
Despite being down on the scoreboard, the Cougars came out of the gate swinging during the third quarter. With 6:43 left to go, Sims connected with Maliki Haynes on a long pass and Nettles tacked on an extra 2 points. The Haynes’ touchdown and Nettles’ 2-point conversion swung momentum back in EA’s favor. Just over a minute later, Sims scored his second touchdown of the night and extended the Cougars’ lead to 28-19. In attempts to even the scoring, the Patriots returned with a short touchdown run and closed the gap, 28-26 at the end of the third.
Determined to gain the victory for EA, Sims scored on a long pass with just under 12 minutes left in the fourth. The score extended the Cougars’ lead, 35-26. With just over 10 minutes left to play, Nettles sealed the deal for EA on a 50-yard trek into the end zone. The Nettles’ score, followed by a Sims’ extra point kick, gave the Cougars a much needed, season opening victory over the best ranked team in the AISA.
This week, the challenges for the Cougars do not stop as they face the AISA number two ranked Glenwood Academy.
Earlier this month, EA head coach High Fountain expressed his concern over the first 2 games of this season’s schedule.
“We will have to be good right out the gate,” Fountain said. “Two of our biggest challenges come at the start of the season. Pike and Glenwood will be tough matches, but I think we will be up for the challenge and we look forward to opening the season against two great schools.”
Fountain also added that the Cougars have never had an undefeated season. If EA can overcome Glenwood this Friday, August 27 in Phoenix City, the Cougars may have a chance at notching off another goal. The contest against Glenwood can be viewed live on Escambia Academy’s Facebook page this Friday at 6 p.m. EA will host the first home game of the season against Patrician Academy on Friday, September 3.