By JOSH FRYE
Escambia Academy is keeping the win streak alive after downing the Tuscaloosa Academy Knights, 21-6, last Friday, September 24. The win however, was not an easy one for the EA Cougars.
During the first play of the game, EA’s JaDaniel “Bubba” Nettles attempted to create big yardage, but was stopped when he fumbled the ball. Tuscaloosa recovered the fumble and took over. After shutting down the Knights’ offense, the Cougars gained another try for a score, but plans backfired when EA’s Devin Kelly fumbled and Tuscaloosa scooped the ball up and scored.
With the Knights leading 6-0 at the start of the second, Nettles finally got things going for the Cougars’ offense when he scored on a 30-yard touchdown run with just under 12 minutes left to play in the second. Landon Sims booted the extra-point kick and EA led, 7-6. With just over 7 minutes left in the first half, Sims, who not only fills the quarterback and kicker roles, but also plays defensive safety, delivered a hard blow to a Tuscaloosa receiver which was flagged by officials. Following the penalty and a lengthy discussion, AISA officials deemed the hit an ejectable offense, and EA’s star quarterback, kicker and safety was asked to leave the game.
Following Sims’ ejection, EA’s Jacob Lee took over as quarterback and the Cougars wasted little time getting on the move. On Lee’s first play of the game, he handed the ball off to Nettles who ran 85 yards into the endzone. However, the touchdown was called back due to an EA holding call.
With just under 2 minutes left to play in the second half, EA’s Kevin Farrish recovered a Knights fumble and ran in for the touchdown. Nettles punched in a 2-point conversion attempt and the Cougars led 15-6 at the half.
With penalties and fumbles plaguing the EA team during the first half, the Cougars returned in attempts to clean up mistakes during the third quarter, but neither team was able to generate scoring opportunities.
During the fourth quarter, Nettles broke free again for EA and scored on a 21-yard rush into the endzone. Lee made the 2-point conversion and the Cougars closed with the win.
In all, EA failed to deliver the best performance of the season. The Cougars fumbled the ball 4 times and lost the starting quarterback due to a penalty.
Going into last week’s game, one of the main areas of focus for head coach Hugh Fountain and assistant coach Mike Sims was pushing the team to clean up penalties and avoiding unwanted loss of yards. Last Friday, EA earned over 150 yards in penalties. Despite the mistakes, the Cougars defense won the day and helped keep Tuscaloosa away from the endzone.
With an undefeated record improving to 5-0 and the number one slot in AISA rankings, the Cougars will travel to face Chipley, Fla., in non-region action this Friday, October 1.