Eagles look to bounce back after region loss

By Austin Bishop

The Webster Progress-Times

 

There is no panic in the voice of Eupora High School head football coach Junior Graham. He knew all along that winning Region 5-2A was going to be a tough task. He also says his team’s 25-20 loss to Bruce last Friday night doesn’t eliminate his Eagles from the title chase.

“We backed ourselves into a corner,” Graham said of his 5-1 Eagles. “We knew going in that was a possibility. Wins in our division are hard to come by. We thought before the season started that the winner of our division could easily have one loss.”

Eupora, which is now 0-1 in league play, entertains Okolona for homecoming this week, before visiting Calhoun City and East Webster to close out the regular season.

“We are not going to hit the panic button around here,” Graham said. “We are just going to work on Okolona and get ready to play better football. There is a lot of football to be played over the next three weeks.”

The visiting Trojans of Bruce scored just before the half on Friday night, then the Eagles got the ball down close late in the game, but couldn’t get the points it needed. While both of those drives made a difference in the game, Graham said the reason his Eagles lost was really part of a much simpler equation.

“We can make all the excuses in the world, but it really came down to two things — blocking and tackling,” Graham said. “They ran 48 plays offensively and we had 41 missed tackles. On offense, we had 38 missed blocks on the play side only. It is the most elementary phase of the game.

“Those are the things we do every day, but we didn’t do them very well on Friday night,” he said. “We lost a mirror game to this last year, although it wasn’t in division. We have been telling them the same thing for the last few weeks. The same two things exposed themselves at Coahoma and Houston. But when you win, nobody is buying into it.”

Eupora trailed 13-7 at the end of the first quarter against Bruce with Lamontae Salley scoring on a 54-yard run for the Eagles. EHS took a 14-13 lead in the second quarter thanks to a 6-yard touchdown run by Lee Starks, only to have the Trojans regain the lead as the first half wound down.

Eupora’s final touchdown of the game came on a 3-yard pass from Trey Pittman to Will Bowen. Justin Lewis was good on both extra point kicks he attempted and is now 25-of-25 for the season.

Pittman hit on 19-of-37 passes for 189 yards to lead the Eagles, while Salley rushed for 96 yards on 13 attempts and had five catches for 69 more yards. Javoris Draine had 11 attempts for 45 yards, while Corson Gunn had four catches for 56 yards and La-Marcus Caradine four for 39 yards. Rusty Johnson made athree receptions for 24 yards and Bowen three for 19.

Tamorus Draine recorded 15 tackles to lead the EHS defense, while Beau Smith had eight. Kenny Murrell came up with seven stops, while Bowen and Johnson had six each.