By Austin Bishop
Webster Progress Times
First-year Eupora High School head football coach Stephen Edwards knew exactly where his 2015 Eagles were going to have to build their success this season, especially in the early stages.
“We knew we were going to have to play defense,” Edwards said. “We are young on offense and we are going to rely on our defense, especially early in the season.”
That’s exactly what the Eagles did on Friday night as the EHS defense forced five turnovers, including one that resulted in the game-winning touchdown on the way to a solid 14-7 road victory over Water Valley on Friday night.
With the game tied at 7-7 midway through the quarter, EHS muffed a punt that was recovered by Water Valley deep in Eupora territory. The Eagle defense stood strong and seemingly held Water Valley on four downs, only to be called for pass interference.
However, the EHS defense wasn’t through, as just a couple plays later Eupora cornerback Corson Gunn stepped in front of a Water Valley pass and raced 98 yards for a touchdown to put the winners up 14-7.
“He just turned it on,” Edwards said. “I was just hoping we would get the ball away from the goal line, but we got a couple good blocks, especially one from (Carson Gunn) that set him up for the touchdown.”
That wasn’t the only time the defense would save the day for the Eagles on opening night. Late in the game Water Valley drove the ball down to the EHS 25-yard line, before letting fly a pass that was intercepted in the end zone by Al Dumas with just over a minute to play in the game.
“He just went up and got it,” Edwards said of the interception. “It was a great play.”
In all the EHS defense forced five turnovers, while the Eagles only gave the ball up once.
Lamarcus Caradine also had an interception for Eupora, while Tyler Bell and Victor Goldman each recovered fumbles. Carson Gunn, who led an overpowering EHS defense line, led the winners with seven tackles along with Connor Hood, while Charvez Embry, Bell, and Goldman had five each.
“I just thought our linebackers played better overall this week,” Edwards played. “The secondary played better than they did in the jamboree too. I thought those guys did a good job.”
Goldman led Eupora’s rushing attack with 67 yards on 12 carries, while Jack Smith had eight carries for 38 yards and Claude Herard four for 12.
Tanner Knight hit on 4-of-9 passes for 50 yards, with Corson Gunn having one catch for 26 yards, Carradine one for 14 and Dumas and Herard each catching one for five yards..
Water Valley took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a long pass play, but Eupora came back to tie the game in the second quarter when Goldman scored on an 8-yard run and Knight kicked the first of his two extra points on the night. The 26-pass play from Knight to Goldman set up the game-tying touchdown.
Next up for the Eagles is the home opener this Friday night when a 1-0 French Camp Academy team pays a visit. The Panthers opened the year with a 25-7 win over Winona Christian School.
“We don’t know much about them other than they beat Winona Christian,” Edwards said. “We are just going to work on continuing to improve on the things we need to work on.”