Eupora Eagles advance to North State semifinals

By Austin Bishop

The Webster Progress-Times

 

Sometimes you don’t get quite what you expect and it still turns out good.

That’s exactly what happened for the Eupora High School Eagles last Friday night, as they rushed for 362 yards as a team on 36 attempts to run their way past East Union 42-7 in the second round of the MHSAA Class 2A State Football Playoffs.

“We went into the game expecting we were going to throw the football, because we didn’t think it would be easy to run the ball on them,” said EHS head football coach Junior Graham. “At times they had been really good in the run game. It just came a lot easier than we thought, so we kind of stuck to it.”

Lamontae Salley had a big night for the Eagles, who improved to 9-2 on the season with the win, as he rushed for 230 yards and a pair of touchdowns on just 14 carries.

Eupora hit for two touchdowns in each of the first three quarters to jump out to the big lead and take the solid win over the Urchins.

“It was a good win,” Graham said. “Those kids (East Union) played extremely hard.”

There are no surprises ahead for Eupora as the Eagles try to get back to Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium the first weekend in Jackson to play in the Class 2A title game for the second consecutive season.

“Your four teams that are left (in the North) all have tradition,” Graham said. “West Bolivar, Calhoun City, us and Baldwyn all know what it’s about and what it takes to win at this point in the season. Nothing will be easy.”

Eupora will be hitting the road for the second consecutive week, as the Eagles travel to Baldwyn to take on the Bearcats in the 2A North State semifinals.

“Baldwyn is typical Baldwyn,” Graham said. “The are very well coached and are really big across the defensive and offensive front. We have got our hands full. They are the biggest team we have faced all year and we have faced some big ones.”

Graham said the Bearcats like to run and throw, using a lot of play-action passes to keep defenses honest. He also noted that keeping Baldwyn running back Duke Upshaw in check would be a special challenge for his Eagles.

Last Friday night the Eagles took a quick 14-0 first-quarter lead in the game played at Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville, thanks to a 1-yard touchdown run by Claude Herard and a 10-yard scoring pass from Trey Pittman to Corson Gunn. Pittman hit La-Marcus Caradine with the two-point conversion following the second score.

EHS led 28-7 at the half, with Salley scoring on runs of 4 and three yards in the second quarter and Justin Lewis connected on two of the four extra point kicks he made on the night.

Eupora closed out its scoring in the third quarter as Pittman hit Gunn with a 21-yard scoring strike and Herard scored on a 1-yard run.

Pittman hit on 8-of-14 passes for 132 yards on the night, while Herard rushed for 42 yards on 11 attempts. Tarvis Robinson had three catches for 53 yards, Gunn three for 50 and Caradine two for 29.

Tamoris Draine was dominating on defense, getting in on a whopping 21 tackles, while Beau Smith and Lee Starks had seven stops each.