By JOSH FRYE
James Whatley and Mason Huggins each scored twice, helping the Escambia County High School Blue Devils gain a 36-24 homecoming victory over the W.S. Neal Blue Eagles last Friday, October 15. The Blue Devils came out swinging defensively early in the first quarter of the game when ECHS’s defensive line made a big stop with Neal threatening on the goal line.
The defensive stop sent both teams to the second quarter scoreless until Whatley opened up scoring with 10:02 left in the quarter with a 2-yard touchdown run. ECHS missed the extra-point kick attempt and took a 6-0 lead. Whatley scored his second touchdown of the night with 3:33 left in the first half when he broke free and scored from 5 yards out. The Blue Devils extra-point kick was blocked by Neal and ECHS held a 12-0 lead at halftime.
During the third quarter, Huggins picked up scoring for ECHS when he rushed downfield 40 yards. The Huggins’ scamper put the Blue Devils up, 18-0. Late in the third, Huggins again found the endzone on a 15-yard run and ECHS took a 24-0 lead.
In the fourth, after throwing an interception and losing Huggins to a leg injury, Blue Devils quarterback Dakota Despain increased the ECHS lead when he punched in from 10 yards out. The Blue Devils attempted a 2-point conversion after the score, but fell short and ECHS led 30-0. Following Despain’s score, Neal finally showed signs of life, scoring on a 5-yard scamper. After gaining a 2-point conversion, the Blue Eagles trailed, 30-8. With just over 2 minutes left to play in the game, E.J. Thomas scored on a 50-yard strike and after a failed 2-point conversion attempt, the Blue Devils held a 36-8 advantage.
Despite trailing big time on the scoreboard late in the fourth, W.S. Neal refused to give in and scored on a long run for a touchdown with just 1:51 left to play in the game. After converting on a 2-point attempt, the Blue Eagles trailed, 36-16. With 1:36 left in the game, Neal forced a fumble and dashed in from 10 yards out. After completing another successful 2-point conversion, the Blue Eagles closed out 36-24.
With the win, the Blue Devils advance to 2-6 overall season record with a region record of 1-4 and W.S. Neal falls to a 0-8 overall season record with a region record of 0-6.
This Friday, October 22, ECHS will host Jackson in region action. Jackson boasts an overall season record of 7-2 and is currently 3-2 in region play.