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Flu sidelines players, PHS falls to Ariton

Ariton’s Craig Sanders helped lead his team to a 21-13 victory over the Pleasant Home Eagles Friday night in Ariton.

Hampered by the flu bug and missing several starters, the Eagles couldn’t stop the favored Ariton Purple Cats in the Class 1A, Region 2 opener for both teams.

Using a rugged defense and ball-control offense, Ariton’s scoring drives consisted of three touchdowns and a 30-yard field goal.

Ariton struck first with two minutes left in the first quarter when Sanders capped off a 90-yard drive with a 45-yard scamper off the Eagles’ left tackle. The Eagles blocked Ariton’s extra point attempt.

Pleasant Home answered the bell with a nice 60-yard drive after Cory Sims returned the kickoff to the 40-yard line. C.J. Langley and Tyler Barbaree had key runs around Ariton’s defensive front as the Eagle offensive line began to take control of the line of scrimmage.

Then, just when the Purple Cats thought they had an answer, Pleasant Home’s Ethan King ran around the left end of the line and found the end zone from 20 yards out.

Ariton scored again with 3:17 in the half to put the Cats up 12-6.

The second half started off with a bang when the Purple Cats scored on their first possession on a reverse for a 50-yard touchdown.

A celebration penalty moved the line of scrimmage back 15 yards for the extra point, which was unsuccessful. Just when it looked like the Eagles were through, Ethan King connected with C.J. Langley on a beautiful 82-yard bomb that cut the lead to 18-12 with eight minutes left in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, the Pleasant Home (0-2, 0-1 in Class 1A, Region 2) defense smelled a big play and Sanders miraculously escaped to carry the ball 30 yards down the left sideline for a first down.

The stubborn defense held strong yet again, but Ariton’s Tyler Deal kicked a 30-yard field goal to make the score 21-13.

Late in the fourth quarter, Ariton’s stingy defense held on four downs and got their offense to pull off the upset.

Pleasant Home coach Robert Bradford said his team played with a lot of “heart.”

“We showed a lot of heart tonight,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of adversity this week but we never let our circumstances get us down. We have no excuses. We played hard and fell short. I’ve got a bunch of tough kids that grew up a lot (Friday night). I am proud of them and we’ll bounce back.”

King passed for 214 yards while Langley and Barbaree led in rushing with 125 yards.

Pleasant Home will travel to play Geneva County next Friday.