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Eagles edge Edgewood by one

Going into Friday night's Top 10 showdown between the No. 9 Fort Dale Eagles and the No. 7 Edgewood Wildcats, Eagles head coach James &#8220Speed” Sampley didn't expect many of his younger players to see playing time.

One of those players, sophomore Kendall Gibson, did play and came up huge for the Eagles, nailing an extra point, of all things, in the third quarter to lead Fort Dale over Edgewood, 7-6.

&#8220Who would have thought that our special teams would have made the difference in the game with an extra point,” Sampley said to his team following the game.

The Eagles, which beat the Wildcats in the first round of last season's playoffs 22-17, relied heavily on its defense Friday night to carry the load.

&#8220We played great on defense and we made some great stands,” Sampley said.

The Fort Dale defense got rolling early in the first quarter after Edgewood converted two long plays to take the ball down into Eagle territory.

With the Wildcats driving, Fort Dale senior Dalton Gregory made a diving pick for the Eagles' first interception of the game.

It wouldn't be the last.

Later in the half, senior Mika Jones picked off his first of two passes deep the red zone.

Jones, who is no stranger to picks against Edgewood, had three interceptions in last season's playoff game and finished Friday night with two.

&#8220We worked on four-deep covers all week and it was a bonus just to come up with the ball,” Jones said.

Sampley credited Jones and Blake Mullins for their great defensive work, while also giving praise to players like Aaron Callen, Paul Whigham and Gibson, who he said weren't expecting to play much but had to step in due to injuries.

&#8220Mika is a great defensive back and Blake is a great athlete,” Sampley said, &#8220but this was a team win with a bunch of young players who were not supposed to play stepping up.”

Mullins also had a huge night for the Eagles, making three fourth-down stops in the second half, including two in the red zone.

&#8220We played great on defense and we toughed it out when we had to,” Mullins said.

Prior to the final fourth-down stop made by Mullins, he said the team came together and knew what they had to do.

&#8220I told myself I have to make this stop and we called the right play and I was just in the right place at the right time,” Mullins said.

On the night, Jones was the leading rusher for the Eagles with 93 yards on 17 carries while Mullins finished with 54 yards on 19 carries.

Through the air, Ty Newton was 1-for-2 with a 60-yard touchdown pass to Jones following Edgewood's only score to open the second half.

The Eagles finished the night with 190 total yards.

Offensively for Edgewood, the Wildcats had 113 yards rushing and 113 yards passing for a total of 226 yards.

On the defensive side of the ball, Barry Boan was the leading tackler with 10. Davis Watts finished the game with eight tackles.

Both teams committed several first-game penalties, with Edgewood committing six delays of the game.

The Eagles return to action Friday night as they host Hooper Academy at 7:30 p.m.