By Ruthie Robison The Webster Progress-Times
The Eupora Eagles made a big comeback scoring 15 unanswered points to seal another Class 2A, Region 2, District 4 win, 22-18.
The Eagles hosted neighboring county rival the Ackerman Indians in a much-anticipated meeting with the winner of the contest taking the lead in division rankings.
“It maybe, since I’ve been here, the biggest comeback for a win,” said Eupora head coach Junior Graham. “Our kids responded. This is such a game of emotion and momentum.”
The Eagles scored early in the first quarter with a halfback pass option play. Rusty Johnson found receiver Derrick Jones in the end zone with a 35-yard pass. After the extra point by Justin Lewis, Eupora had a 7-0 lead.
But in the second quarter, the momentum seemed to go in favor of Ackerman.
The Indians answered back making their way down the field with a long drive capped with an 11-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Dakota Brasher to sophomore Jamarcus Bradley. Unable to receive the extra point, Ackerman continued to trail with 9:54 left in the first half of the game, 7-6.
The Eagles were unable to strike back with a scoring play on their next possession and Ackerman took over at their own 20-yard line. Two plays later junior running back T.C. Hatchett ran for a 39-yard gain putting Ackerman deep in Eupora territory. A few plays later, Brasher found Lenny Taylor open in the end zone with an 11-yard pass. Just a little over three minutes left in the second quarter, the Indians had a 12-7 advantage over the Eagles.
The Indians shortly received another chance to score and jumped on it. Hatchett added an Indian touchdown with a run from the four. However, his would be the last time the Indians would reach the end zone.
Eupora fumbled the ball on the ensuing kickoff return, and it was quickly recovered by the Indians in Eupora territory. Although it seemed that the Indians would have another chance to score, those hopes were shot down on the next play. Derrick Jones caught an interception and dashed 70 yards for a much-needed Eagle touchdown with 1:03 left in the first half. Quarterback Trey Pittman connected with Savon Daughtery for the extra two points.
“They did what most people would do and tried to extend their lead going into halftime,” said Graham. “But we made a play on their side- line and it got us back in the ballgame.”
The Indians continued to lead Eupora at halftime, 18-15.
“[Jones’ interception] gave us the momentum,” said Graham. “We came out the second half and ran the ball effectively, and we had a senior make a big play on the last touchdown.”
The Eagles would not reach the end zone again until early in the fourth quarter.
With 10:16 left in the game, Daughtery raced through the Indian defenders 19 yards to the end zone. Lewis added the extra point, and Eagle had a 22-18 edge that would hold.
The Eagle defense put pressure on the Indian offense to protect their four point lead for the rest of the game and had two big defensive plays that halted Ackerman’s efforts to score.
With the Indians in possession of the ball, senior Lazerick Davis caught an interception giving the ball back to the Eagles.
Later in the fourth quarter, the Indians attempted to move the ball down the field agains. With just seconds left in the game, senior Jamall Roby forced a fumble and recovered it to ensure an Eagle victory.
“It was a big win for a lot of different reasons. Number one it was a division game and number two it is against [our] neighbors down the road,” said Graham.
The Eagles now have sole possession of the top spot in district rankings with an 8-1 overall record and 3-0 division record.
Lamontae Salley led the rushing attack with 17 carries for 68. Vandy Smith had seven carries for 26 yards, while Daughtery had three carries for 24 yards with one touchdown.
Pittman was 7-17 through the air for 100 yards.
Jones had three receptions for 62 yards with a touchdown, while Roby had four receptions for 54 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, Smith led the Eagles with nine stops. Markelle Elchelberger had eight stops and one sack while Tamoris Draine had seven stops.
Roby and Patrick Marshall also had a sack each.
This Friday night the Eagles will travel to Durant to square off with the Williams-Sullivan Yellowjackets (2-7, 0-3). The Yellowjackets were recently defeated by the East Webster Wolverines, 47-6.
Kickoff will be at 7:00 p.m.