By Austin Bishop
The Webster Progress Times
It really wasn’t much of a surprise to Junior Graham when he found out who his Eupora High School Eagles would be meeting in the first round of the MHSAA Class 2A Football Playoffs. At least it shouldn’t have been.
When the Eagles play host to South Delta High School Friday night at 7, it will make the third straight season the two teams have met in the playoffs. South Delta sent EHS home two seasons ago.
“We know a little bit about each other,” Graham said. “There’s some history there. It will be a tough match-up for us, but are just going to have to get ourselves ready for the challenge.”
Eupora had to hold off a tough East Webster team on Friday night to earn its spot in the playoffs. The 35-18 win improved the Eagles to 7-2 overall and 2-2 in Region 4-2A play.
With the win Eupora went from being left out of the playoffs to finishing second and earning a first-round home game.
“Friday night was a playoff game for us,” Graham said of the win over EW. “If we lost we were out. We had to win to keep playing.”
Region 4-2A winner Calhoun City will host J.Z. George on Friday, while Okolona visits West Bolivar and Bruce travels to Hollandale Simmons.
“You eventually have to win on the road, but it’s nice to finish second and get that first game at home.”
Eupora fell behind early to East Webster 7-0 thanks to a 62-yard touchdown run by the Wolverines Deangelo Liggins, but the Eagles countered with a 1-yard touchdown run from Javoris Draine, a 46-yard scoring pass from Trey Pittman to Corson Gunn and a pair of extra point kicks by Justin Lewis to take a 14-7 lead after one quarter of play. Lewis was good on all five of his point after attempts on the night.
The Eagles stretched that advantage out to 21-7 with just 35 seconds left in the first half when Lamontae Salley scored on an 8-yard run.
East Webster fought back in the third quarter cutting it to 21-18, when Chance Cooper delivered the play of the game.
He took the ensuing kickoff and raced up the middle to score on a 94-yard return to stretch Eupora’s lead back out to 10 points and give the Eagles the momentum they needed.
“That was a big play,” Graham said. “We have had some big returns here, but that was one of them.”
While East Webster was lining up to kick the ball off after cutting the EHS lead to three points, Eupora fans along the fence were giving Cooper some advice.
“They were telling me to run off to the sidelines, but coach had me a specific duty to do. He told me it was a middle wedge so I had to return to the middle,” Cooper said. “I had great blocking by all my players and I just utilized them. Once Lamontae Salley got a big block, and the others guys made their blocks and I saw that hole I knew I could score. The only thing I had to do was outrun the last person.”
Eupora picked up a fourth-quarter touchdown on a 5-yard pass on fourth and goal from Pittman to Tarvis Robinson to close out the game with 3:50 left to play.