Eagles earn home field advantage with win, 18-14

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 21, 2006

A series of big plays in the first half and a game saving interception allowed Fort Dale Academy to escape with its fourth win over a Top 10 opponent as the No. 4 Eagles downed No. 6 Cottage Hill 18-14.

Cottage Hill drove to the Fort Dale 8-yard line with less than a minute to play in the game, but junior linebacker Barry Boan picked off a pass to preserve the victory.

The Eagles improved to 8-1 on the year. Cottage Hill fell to 7-2.

The win was also an unprecedented fourth victory over a ranked opponent this season for Sampley's squad.

Fort Dale beat No. 9 Glenwood 20-15 two weeks ago. Clarke Prep and Edgewood were also ranked in the AISA Top 10 when Fort Dale defeated them.

&#8220They're (the team) trying to turn me into an old gray man is what they're trying to do,” said Sampley. &#8220But I really don't pay much attention to that (the rankings).”

Sampley did say he felt the close victories have prepared his team for the playoffs.

Tailback Blake Mullins erupted for an 89-yard touchdown run on Fort Dale's first play from scrimmage in the first half. Ty Newton added a 7-yard touchdown run with a minute remaining in the first quarter that gave Fort Dale a 12-0 lead.

Cottage Hill scored on a pass play, slicing the lead to 12-7, and was looking for more when Eagles' senior Dalton Gregory intercepted a pitch and returned it 84 yards for the touchdown midway in the second quarter.

Cottage Hill added a 33-yard touchdown pass in the same quarter and Fort Dale led 18-14 at halftime.

Sampley applauded the play of his defense as Boan finished with 10 tackles and the Eagles pitched a shutout the remainder of the game.

Mullins finished the contest with 135 yards on 16 carries.

The Eagles host No. 5 Lowndes Academy next week, concluding the regular season before a first round playoff game at home against Macon-East Academy.