By PATRICK BYRD
News Sports Writer
After their win the previous week against Valiant Cross Academy, the Escambia Academy Cougars were ready to step back on Bachelor Field for their Homecoming game. This week, they faced the Hooper Academy Colts of Hope Hull, Alabama. The schools last played each other in 2019, when the Cougars won 35-14.
Jacob Lee (#1), Christian Crook (#3), and Shawnton Riley (#11) represented the Cougars as captains to meet the Colt captains at midfield before the game. Hooper won the coin toss and chose to defer to the second half.
The game started off quick when Crook caught the kick and ran it in for a 70-yard touchdown. The kick by Lee was good, making the score 7-0 with 11:47 left in the first quarter.
The Colts soon fumbled the ball, and Crook recovered it at the Cougar 41-yard line; however, the Cougars were stopped and forced to turn the ball over.
With 53 seconds left in the first quarter, Hooper scored their first touchdown with a 3-yard carry. The kick was no good, and the score was 7-6.
A Cougar fumble at the Cougar 43 led to a 36-yard run to the 7-yard line by the Colts during the last play of the first quarter; this led to a Colt touchdown 1 minute into the second quarter. The kick was blocked, leaving the Colts leading by a score of 12-7.
Two minutes later, the Cougars’ Devin Kelly (#5) scored a touchdown of 79 yards after receiving a pass from Lee. A no-good kick left the score 13-12.
With 6:16 left before the half, Crook intercepted a 40-yard pass and continued to run the ball 50 yards toward the Cougar end zone; however, a block in the back penalty against the Cougars allowed them to keep only 20 of the 50 yards.
The Cougars remained in possession of the ball, and they used this to their advantage when a 60-yard touchdown carry by Ty McCants (#2) and a good kick made the score 20-12.
With 2:59 left before the half, the Cougars blocked a punt by the Colts to bring the ball to the Colt 3-yard line. A touchdown by Crook quickly followed, but the kick was no good, leaving the score 26-12.
The Cougars had one last thing to say before the half when Samorion Clark (#22) recovered a Colt fumble and ran the ball 50 yards for a Cougar touchdown with 8 seconds left. The kick was no good, and the score was 32-12 Cougars, going into the half.
Halftime saw the presentation of Homecoming Court and the crowning of the Homecoming Queen. Freshman Rihanna Crook, Sophomore Ana Chesley Robinson, Junior Tava Johnson, and Seniors Tiffany Gookin, Abby-Kate Helton, and Kadence Kolbe were presented as representatives of EA. Jamison Janes, 2021’s Homecoming Queen, stood on the field to crown Tiffany Gookin as 2022’s Homecoming Queen.
The third quarter saw little action until a 20-yard carry by Crook brought the Cougars 1 more touchdown. A no-good kick left the score at 38-12.
The Colts scored 3 minutes into the fourth quarter with a 9-yard carry. The 2-point attempt succeeded, and the final score was 38-20.
“The kids played hard; I’m proud of them, and I’m proud of the coaching staff,” said Cougar Head Coach Gex Billups. “I am sure there were a lot of distractions this week with homecoming. As a coach, I am sure every coach hates homecoming. The kids battled through it.”
The Cougars will be visiting Carrollton this week to play the Pickens Academy Pirates. This region game will be streamed on EA’s Facebook and YouTube pages, so be sure to tune in as the Cougars battle for their spot in the playoffs!