Fort Dale downs fifth Top 10 team

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 28, 2006

The No. 5 Lowndes Academy Rebels came into Fort Dale riding a nine-game win streak Thursday night, but that all came crashing down as the No. 4 Fort Dale Eagles trounced the Rebels off of a strong running performance by Mika Jones, 32-0.

Fort Dale came out of the gates throwing the ball and capped a two and a half minute drive with a leaping 16-yard touchdown catch by Dalton Gregory from quarterback Ty Newton.

The one score would be all the points the Eagles would need.

&#8220We came out in the spread and marched right down the field and scored,” Fort Dale head coach James &#8220Speed” Sampley said. &#8220(Lowndes) made some pretty good adjustments after that but I think it came down to we are just more battle tested than they are because we have played a tougher schedule.”

On Lowndes' first possession of the game, the Rebels fumbled and Cory Johnson recovered. Turnovers would continue to plague the Rebels for the rest of the game.

After the Eagles punted following the fumble recovery, Fort Dale's Barry Boan forced and recovered another Lowndes fumble, but the Eagles were not able to move the ball.

With Lowndes driving late in the first quarter, the Rebels once again turned the ball over as Newton picked off a pass, his 10th of the season.

This time the Eagles were able to take advantage of the turnover as Blake Mullins took the ball in from five yards out. After Newton added the two-point conversion run, the Eagles led 14-0.

With less than three minutes remaining in the half, Mullins once again got into the scoring action as he broke several tackles and raced 27 yards for the Fort Dale score. Jones added the two-point conversion run, making the score 22-0 at the half.

&#8220(Fort Dale was) just too big and strong for us,” Lowndes Academy head coach Art Sullivan said. &#8220Our line just got whipped.”

The Rebels once again shot themselves in the foot to start the second half with a fumble on the opening play.

After Fort Dale recovered, Jones capped the drive with a nine-yard touchdown run, giving the Eagles a 29-0 lead after Kendall Gibson's successful extra-point kick.

The Eagles got great field position on the next possession after Blake Conway blocked a Lowndes punt, but the Fort Dale offense stalled at the five-yard line.

With less than four minutes remaining in the third quarter, Gibson lined up for a 22-yard field goal and split the uprights, thus ending the night's scoring at 32-0.

Offensively for the Eagles, Jones was the leading rusher with 127 yards on 20 carries and one touchdown. Mullins had 56 yards on five carries and two touchdowns while quarterback Newton rushed for 33 yards on 10 carries. Newton also finished 5-of-10 for 58 yards and one touchdown passing.

Many of the Eagles' 253 yards rushing came after contact.

&#8220When you run a two tight end set, you know you're going to get hit,” Sampley said of his running backs. &#8220They know there is a crease and it might be tight, but you have to keep going.”

&#8220It's something we work on everyday,” he said.

Defensively for Fort Dale, Boan and Mullins each had 11 tackles to lead the Eagles, while Boan also had a fumble recovery.

Matt Causey, Johnson and Jeffrey Stead also each had a fumble recovery while Newton and Caleb Battiste also each had an interception.

The Eagles finished the regular season at 9-1, giving Fort Dale a much-needed boost headed into the playoffs.

&#8220Just the momentum of (this win) is big,” Sampley said. &#8220We needed some momentum going into the playoffs because that is something we did not have last year.”

The Rebels also finished the regular season at 9-1 and Sullivan believes Thursday night's loss could be just what his team needed.

&#8220I think it might be (a shot in the arm),” Sullivan said. &#8220They don't take losing real well.”

The Eagles return to action next week for the opening round of the AISA state playoffs.

Fort Dale earned home-field advantage with the win over Cottage Hill and will host Macon-East Friday night. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.