Ugly Homecoming

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 16, 2004

Fort Dale's 345 yard rushing is too much for Cottage Hill, 26-21

By Griffin Pritchard

On a night that started with six new inductees into the athletic hall of fame, a junior was making his campaign to enter.

Junior Tim James grounded out 236 yards rushing en route to the Fort Dale Eagles 26-21 homecoming victory.

As a team, the Eagles abused the Cottage Hill Warrior defense for 345 yards rushing.

Both teams began by trading possessions. The Eagles attempted some trickery early with a double-reverse pass. Quarterback David Moore to the handoff and launched a pass to back Taylor Hawsey, but to no avail.

"Homecoming, so much activity going on here that we had trouble concentrating on the game," said James Sampley, coach of the Eagles. "I'm not taking anything away from Cottage Hill. They've got some great athletes and made some great plays. We weren't very consistent, I don't know what we had, my guess is we had nearly 500 yards of offense and only score 26 points. Then we had to hold on at the end to win and that's not the kind of game we expected to play. Winning ugly is a lot better than losing pretty."

The Tigers tried to convert two fourth downs. But were unable to.

The first one gave the Warriors the ball at midfield and the second one left Cottage Hill coming out of their own end zone.

But, with 3:41 left in the first half Hawsey took the handoff through the defense from eight-yards out for the score.

Speed Sampley went back into his bag of tricks and tried a trick-pass on the point after, but it was batted away.

Fort Dale had a 6-0 lead for less than a minute.

The Warriors had the ball across midfield when quarterback Quinton Dunn took the snap from the shotgun and carried it around the right end en route to a 42-yard touchdown run.

The point after was good, giving Cottage Hill the 7-6 advantage.

They carried that lead into the locker room at the half.

The second half was a different story.

The Eagles came out focusing on their strength, the ground game. Fort Dale lined up in a Power I formation and basically rammed the ball down the throat of the Warrior defense.

The red-clad Eagles ran this offense for five plays.

The sixth play, Moore took the snap and faked a handoff to the back then dropped it over the top of the Cottage Hill secondary into the arms of fullback Dan Duncan.

The fullback took the ball down the field for 48-yards and the touchdown.

They elected to go for two-points and yet again it was to no avail.

Fort Dale reclaimed the 12-7 lead.

The lead didn't last for long. Isreal Hughes took the ensuing kickoff 80 yards for the touchdown. They added the point after and took back the Cottage Hill lead, 14-12.

With 5:05 left in the third quarter, James took the handoff from Moore up the middle of the defense, ran through a linebacker and raced 24-yards for the touchdown.

"I owe it all to the offensive line," said James.

"I'm one man and this is a team."

I think it was a regular seven hole open and I saw the hole then just cadillaced

James carried the ball again on the two-point conversion and crossed the goal line.

Fort Dale reclaimed the lead, 20-14.

James tacked on a second touchdown run, this one from 36-yards out for the score, expanding it to 26-14.

Cottage Hill refused to roll over for the Eagles on homecoming.

Quarterback Bragan Jackson floated a pass to Tray Bonner in the end zone for the touchdown. The point after cut the lead to 26-21.

That score turned out to be the final.

The Eagles were led by James with 236 yards rushing, followed by Hawsey with 40 yards and Brady Newton with 24.

Moore finished the night 6-for-11 for 100 yards and one interception. Newton was 3-of-6 for 19 yards.

Fort Dale finished the night 464 yards of total offense. The Eagle defense held the Warriors to 110 yards of offense.

"Tonight we came out and we played hard, said Bert Rice, senior defensive end for the Eagles. "We probably had four times the offensive yards they did. Everytime we got close we shot ourselves in the foot. Maybe if we hadn't shot ourselves in the foot so much we could have beaten them by four or five touchdowns."

Defensively, the Eagles were led by Brandon Hinson with 11 tackles. Aaron Blackmon and Dalton Gregory both finished the night with 12 sacks.

"This one's over and it came out in our favor and I don't think anyone got hurt seriously. So we are in pretty good shape," Sampley said. "I think overall we probably played pretty good. We just made so many mental mistakes. Jumping offsides when you can't do it. Throwing an interception when you don't need to. Just things like that we can't do to beat a good team consistently and we've got to do something about that."

This game put Fort Dale in the AISA playoffs.

"Big region game next week and we've got to get ready for that," Sampley said.

Next week the Eagles will try to improve their seeding when they travel to Selma to take on Morgan Academy.

The Morgan Senators picked up a 14-6 victory over Monroe Friday night. This game will determine who stays at home and who travels in the first round of the playoffs.

Kickoff for that game is set for 7:30 p.m. and is Q94 Game of the Week,