By JOSH FRYE
The Escambia Academy Cougars beat the Edgewood Academy Wildcats 60-7, during the first round of the 2021 AISA Class 2A State Playoffs last Friday, November 5.
Edgewood, which has captured 7 AISA state titles since 2008, was dismantled early during the first quarter, as EA standout, Bubba Nettles, scored with a 60-yard touchdown run during the Cougars’ first possession. EA quarterback, kicker and safety Landon Sims notched in the point after kick and EA held an early, 7-0 advantage.
Just over a minute later, Nettles found the endzone for a second time with a 65-yard carry. Sims tacked on the extra point and EA held a 14-0 lead with 8:24 left to play in the opening quarter. With the second touchdown, Nettles logged 125 total rushing yards in just the first 10 minutes of the game.
With 5 minutes left to play in the first quarter, the Cougars extended the score to 21-0 after EA’s Kayne Hooks created room for a J.J. Stevens 53-yard haul into the endzone. The Stevens’ touchdown run was followed up by a Brady Howell 5-yard touchdown carry and Sims’ extra-point kick on the Cougars next possession. At the end of the first quarter, EA held a commanding 28-0 lead.
In the second quarter, Sims connected with Devin Kelly on a spot pass which led to a Kelly 38-yard touchdown scamper. Sims once again tacked on the extra point and the Cougars stretched the lead to 35-0. With 4:10 remaining in the first half, EA’s Kevin Farrish pulled in an interception and went downfield for a 35-yard pick 6. A Cougar 2-point conversion attempt failed and EA led 41-0. Just 2 minutes later, Sims, who was playing defense at safety, pulled in another pick 6 and at the half, EA led 48-0.
With a commanding lead during the second half, the Cougars decided for the second week in a row, to start EA underclassmen during the second half. Taking advantage of the less experienced Cougar players, Edgewood finally found running room and punched in from 10 yards out for their first points of the game. With 8:03 left in the third quarter, Edgewood trailed, 48-7. However, the Wildcats quick score would be the only points the visiting team made as EA’s Ty McCants broke free from 9 yards out on the Cougars’ next drive. The McCants score and a failed 2-point conversion gave EA a 54-7 lead with 3:22 to play in the third.
During the fourth quarter, Cougars junior varsity defenseman Brody Phillips pulled in an interception for EA’s third pick 6 of the night. With only seconds left to play in the game, Phillips made his way over 60 yards with an entire Cougars stadium cheering him on, for the last score of the game.
With the victory, EA has outscored their past 2 opponents by 60 points as they play the second round of the AISA Class 2A playoffs this week against Chambers Academy, who also, like the Cougars, boasts a 10-1 overall record. EA has only held 2 meetings against Chambers and both have ended in losses. The first meeting against the Rebels came in 1999 when the Cougars were defeated during the first round of playoffs, 42-6. The second meeting against the Rebels was last year, when again, the Cougars were defeated during the AISA State Championship by Chambers, 36-34.
According to EA head coach Hugh Fountain, the AISA playoffs are all about survival. If the Cougars can defeat the Rebels on the road this Friday, November 12, during the semi-final round of the AISA Class 2A playoffs, EA will hit paydirt and make another championship game appearance.
Fountain noted last week that the team and coaching staff have been working extremely hard to eliminate penalties and turnovers. So far, during the past 2 appearances, the work the team has been putting in has been apparent.
This week the Cougars look to keep focus and, according to Fountain, stick to the plan of not beating themselves, and will keep playing aggressive football. EA hopes that 2021 will be the year the losing streak against Chambers ends.