By Ruthie Robison The Webster Progress-Times
An intense playoff matchup unfolded at Wofford Field last Friday night as the Eupora Eagles hosted the South Delta Bulldogs.
The Eagles did not underestimate their competitive Region 4, No. 2 opponent since last season the Bulldogs ended Eupora’s playoff run at Rolling Fork with a close 20-14 decision.
The Eagles were prepared to prevent history from repeating itself in the second round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 2A playoffs.
The Bulldog offense lit up the scoreboard first. South Delta quarterback Ricky Green found Terrale Washington with a 39-yard pass with just 37 seconds remaining before the second quarter. Hakeen Johnson dashed into the end zone for the extra points giving South Delta an 8-0 advantage.
The Eagles were finally able to answer back late in the second quarter. Senior Savon Daughtery made a seven-yard touchdown run chipping away at the Bulldog lead. Eupora went for the tie but were unsuccessful.
The Eagles entered halftime trailing behind South Delta, 8-6.
The second half of the game proved to be a battle just as hard fought as in the first. However, the momentum of the game began to favor the home team.
Eupora pounded out 30 unanswered points in the second half to cap their 36-8 win.
The first possession of the ball in the third quarter belonged to the Bulldogs. As South Delta began moving the ball, Vandy Smith made a big play for the Eagles on the defense. Smith recovered a fumble at the Bulldog 30-yard line setting up a chance for his team to score. The Eagles capitalized a few plays later with a run to the end zone by senior running back Lazerick Davis from seven yards out. Davis entered the end zone again for the extra points.
Eupora took the lead away from South Delta for the first time during the game and did not relinquish it, 14-8.
The Eagles increased their lead at the next opportunity. Davis made another touchdown run from the 15-yard line. A pass from quarterback Trey Pittman to Will Bowen claimed the extra points.
With the ball in the hands of the Bulldog offense, South Delta traveled deep into Eagle territory in an effort to gain points. The Bulldogs tried to take advantage of a fourth and goal at the Eupora five-yard line. The Eagle defense made a stand, and held the Bulldog ball carrier at the one-yard line.
The Eagle lead grew in the fourth quarter with just 5:54 left in the game. Smith intercepted a South Delta pass and punched it in from seven yards out for the pick-six. Justin Lewis added the point-after- touchdown.
Sophomore running back Lamontae Salley topped off Eupora’s 36-8 win with a 12-yard rushing touchdown. Lewis followed with the extra point.
Davis led the rushing attack with 10 carries for 78 yards with two touchdowns. Smith had 11 carries for 76 yards while Daughtery had nine carries for 66 yards with one touchdown. Salley had four carries for 27 yards with one touchdown while Javoris Draine had one carry for five yards.
Pittman was 5-11 through the air for 62 yards.
Senior wide receiver Jamall Roby had one reception for 28 yards. Daughtery had two receptions for 18 yards while Derrick Jones had one reception for 13 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, Roby led with 11 stops and two sacks. Markelle Eichelberger has 10 stops and one fumble recovery while Smith had nine stops, one interception and a fumble recovery. Rusty Johnson had seven stops while Jones and Patrick Marshall had five stops each.
Eupora holds a 12-1 overall record.
This Friday night the Eagles will travel to Calhoun City’s “Boneyard” for the third round of playoff action.
The Calhoun City Wildcats will enter the game with a 9-4 overall record. The Wildcats recently defeated Kennedy (Mound Bayou), 48-18.
Earlier in the season, the Eagles and Wildcats met in a non-division showdown at Wofford Field. Calhoun City handed Eupora their only loss of the season, 27-6.
In this much-anticipated rematch, both teams will be battling for the chance to play on Nov. 23 for the MHSAA Class 2A North Half championship.
Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m.