By JOSH FRYE
After a disappointing end last season during the AISA championship game against Chambers Academy, Escambia Academy’s football team is holding their heads up proudly this week after dismantling the Rebels, 37-13, last Friday (November 12) during the AISA Class 2A State Semi-Finals, launching them to a sixth straight championship game appearance.
Last season, Chambers sent EA packing after defeating the Cougars, 36-34, during the AISA Championship. In fact, EA has never defeated Chambers Academy, until now. During a game where everything mattered, EA’s Landon Sims and Bubba Nettles scored 2 touchdowns each to help launch the Cougars past Chambers.
Nettles got things started early for the Cougars, scoring on a 2-yard touchdown carry with 4:24 left in the first quarter. Following the Nettles’ opening score, Sims was unable to boot in the extra-point attempt as the kick sailed off the goalpost. With the missed field goal, the Cougars led 6-0.
During the second quarter, Sims broke free on a quarterback keeper and ran 45 yards downfield for the score. After the touchdown, Nettles scored on a 2-point conversion run and EA extended the lead to 14-0. Just a few minutes later, Nettles scored his second touchdown of the night when he scored on a 5-yard run. Sims booted in the point after touchdown kick and the Cougars led, 21-0.
Following the second score by Nettles, Chambers finally breathed life when the Rebels cut into the lead with a T.Y. Trammell 15-yard touchdown run. Following the Chambers’ touchdown and extra-point kick, EA led, 21-7.
With just over 2 minutes left to play in the first half, Sims scored his second touchdown after rushing in from 7 yards out. Sims also booted the extra-point kick and EA led 28-7. Following the score, Chambers attempted to gain momentum with just seconds left in the half, but a strong defensive EA presence ended scoring hopes for the Rebels.
EA’s Maliki Haynes picked up second-half scoring for the Cougars when he wrangled in a 5-yard pass from Sims for a touchdown. The Haynes score extended the lead to 34-7 with 3:02 left in the third.
During the fourth quarter, a Sims long scamper for a touchdown was called back due to a block in the back penalty. Instead, the Cougars settled for a 29-yard Sims field goal kick and EA led, 37-7, with 6:35 left to play.
With EA holding a large lead, Trammell broke free late for a 11-yard touchdown run, but time ran out for a Rebels comeback and the Cougars left the field with the taste of redemption from last year’s team who cost them a championship.
With Chambers now out of the picture, EA has one last major task at hand which comes in the form of the team who handed the Cougars their only loss this season, Autauga. Earlier this year, Autauga defeated EA during the regular season, 31-17. In fact, this year marks the sixth straight year that EA has appeared in the AISA State Championship game. Of those six appearances, EA has faced Autauga five times for the championship and won only once.
According to head coach Hugh Fountain, EA has been constantly working this season to improve in all aspects, including eliminating penalties. The work and luck of the Cougars will be put to the test this Friday (November 19) as EA travels to face Autauga at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery at 3:30 p.m. for the AISA Class 2A State title.