Published 12:10 am Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pleasant Home’s Cameron Hill tries to escape from Florala defenders during Friday night’s contest. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Eagles come from behind; beat ‘Cats 32-12

Pleasant Home and Florala wrote their own version of Charles Dickens’ classic, “A Tale of Two Cities” last night.

The Wildcats surged ahead 12-0 in the first half and PHS scored just before half time to make it a 12-8 game after the first 24 minutes, where Florala had all of the momentum.

Pleasant Home calmed down, regrouped on its line play and outscored the Wildcats 24-0 in the second half to win 32-12 in region action at Eagles Field to make it “A Tale of Two Halves.”

Austin McNeill and Austin West scored on 1-yard touchdown runs to give the Wildcats their 12-0 edge, but a 21-yard TD run by leading rusher Cameron Hill with 2:55 left gave all the momentum back to the Eagles heading into half time.

PHS head football coach Cody McCain said he was relieved that his team got that first touchdown of the night.

“We felt like we could move the ball,” McCain said. “It was just that we were getting out-coached and outplayed on the other side of the ball (in the first half). We weren’t lining up and not playing our assignments, and they were taking advantage of them. They came in with a great game plan. Fortunately, we came in the half only a score down and were able to make an adjustment.”

The adjustment McCain was referring to was on PHS’ line play.

The Eagles (3-1, 3-0 in Class 1A, Region 2) simply outplayed FHS in the second half.

Florala’s McNeill had two lost fumbles — which led to three touchdowns — and an interception. Additionally, penalties hurt the Wildcats as well, as they were called for many offsides and a couple personal foul calls.

“They had a better one in the second half than we did,” FHS head football coach Justin Jones said. “That’s why you play four quarters.”

Jones said the turnovers really “killed” the Wildcats.

“You’re not going to get the ball back enough against them, with the type of offense they run,” he said. “You’re not going to get it back enough.

“When you turn it over and when the turnovers lead to points, that’s just going to happen,” he said. “That’s seven turnovers in two weeks.”

Pleasant Home junior fullback Carl Whitehurst, who rushed for more than 50 yards, got the scoring going for the Eagles with a 3-yard TD rush with 6:30 left in the third quarter to give his team its first lead of the game.

Whitehurst said he knew the team had to “play better” coming out of half time.

“We didn’t want to come out too pumped up,” Whitehurst said. “We were just trying to stay calm as much as we could.”

PHS took control over Florala’s offense, finding gaps to apply pressure on the struggling Wildcats QB.

As a result of a turn over, Hill scored his second touchdown of the night from 10 yards with 1:05 left to play in the third and with the 2-point conversion rush by Whitehurst, the Eagles led 24-12.

Whitehurst, who also had a good night defensively with several tackles, credited the offensive line for how well the front seven did.

Florala (1-3, 0-3) gave up another fumble with no time remaining in the third and the Eagles took advantage, scoring on a 7-play drive with 9:31 left in the contest, which was Hill’s final rushing score of the night.

“In the second half, they played much better,” McCain said. “Hopefully, that’ll carry on over to the rest of the year. It was very nice to get that third region win.”

Hill finished with 91 yards on 11 carries and three touchdowns. John Newby, who was stout on defense, recorded 15 tackles for the Eagles.

McNeill had 54 yards on 14 carries and was the difference-factor for the Wildcats in the first half. He scored from six yards out with 7:10 left in the first half to give the Wildcats a demanding 12-0 lead.

West scored the first touchdown from one yard on a solid first-possession drive for the Wildcats.

Pleasant Home hosts Flomaton and Florala visits J.U. Blacksher next week.