By Austin Bishop
The Webster Progress Times
Junior Graham has seen a lot of first halves of football games in his storied coaching career, but if could replay the first two quarters his Eupora Eagles put together last Friday night, he certainly would — over, and over, and over.
“That was as efficient of a first half of football as I have ever been a part of,” said Graham, who is in his seventh year as head coach at EHS. “We never punted and scored five of the six times we had the ball. We forced four straight turnovers and the offense was effective both running and passing the ball. It was good to see.”
Eupora exploded for 37 first-half points against French Camp Academy last Friday to take control of the game early and roll to the easy 51-21 home win.
“The kids executed well up front and we did a better job of running the ball and Trey (Pittman) has matured a lot at quarterback,” Graham said. “We really only had one third and long and we executed on all of our plays offensively.”
Lamontae Salley rushed for 140 yards on just 10 carries and scored on runs of 34, 23, 45 and 1 yards to help Eupora build the huge lead. Eupora’s other first-half points came when Deon Watkins recorded a safety and Javoris Draine scored on a 1-yard run.
In the second half the Eagles picked up points on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Jalen Embry to Chance Cooper and a 47-yard touchdown run by Lee Starks
FCA finally got on the scoreboard in the third quarter when Jesse Hosket hit Hagan Box with a 4-yard touchdown pass. The fourth quarter saw Hosket hit Hunter McKnight with a pair of scoring tosses, one from 25 yards out and the other from 26. Hosket hit on 20-of-31 passes on the night for 281 yard and three touchdowns, but also had three interceptions. Hosket was also the leading rusher with 19 carries for 59 yards. Box had nine receptions for 125 yards to lead the Panthers, while McKnight had five grabs for 83 yards.
Eupora’s Rusty Johnson picked up a pair of those interceptions, while Salley got the other one. Tamoris Draine was in on 14 tackles for the Eagles, while Jarques McBride took part in seven stops.
Pittman hit on 9-of-11 passes for 168 yards for the Eagles, now 2-0 on the season, while Starks rushed for 106 yards on five carries for EHS.
Next up for Eupora is a short trip to take on the rival Tigers of Winona.
“It’s going to be a battle for us because of the close proximity of the two schools it’s a big game,” Graham said. “Those guys are going to be ready for us no matter what.”
Winona is 0-2 on the season after losing to Kosciusko 26-20 in the season opener and Choctaw County 41-20 last week.
‘The score of the Choctaw County game was not an indicator of how close that game was in the first half,” Graham said.
Winona has a couple of offensive weapons for Eupora to keep an eye on. Quarterback Mario Hill rushed for 121 yards against Kosciusko, while Teon Thomas had 100 yards on eight carries against Choctaw County.
The game with Winona is the first of four consecutive road games for the Eagles. After facing the Tigers, EHS will travel to Coahoma AHS, Byhalia and Houston. Eupora will have on open date on Oct. 4, before hosting Bruce on Oct. 11.