Etowah beats Alexandria 27-14
Thu. August 30, 2012 at 11:00 p.m. | By Times Staff
Etowah’s Devin Horton tries to evade the tackle of Alexandria’s Wyatt Burgess during the team’s game in Attalla. (Photo by Dave Hyatt | Gadsden Times)
By J.J. Hicks
Times Sports Writer
ATTALLA — It wasn’t always pretty, but Etowah will take it.
The Class 5A Blue Devils overcame a sluggish first half by taking advantage of a turnover and a big special teams play en route to a 27-14 victory over Alexandria in high school football action Thursday.
With the team dealing with the suspensions of five players and injuries, which led to the Blue Devils starting five ninth-graders in the game, Etowah still managed to grind out a tough win over a quality 4A opponent. Coach Sam McCorkle was very pleased with his team’s perseverance.
“Our young guys showed the quality, class and character that they all have,” he said. “We were very thin in this game, but our team overcame the obstacles to win against a very good, well-coached team.”
With the game tied at halftime, Kenton LaCount covered a fumble for Etowah on the first play of the third quarter. Five plays later, Devin Horton scampered in for a 13-yard touchdown to give Etowah a ead it would never relinquish. The extra point was no good, leaving the score 13-7 Etowah (1-0) with 10:02 left in the third quarter.
The following possession, the Valley Cubs got a pair of first downs but could go no further as the drive stalled. Horton struck again, as he returned the ensuing punt 60 yards for a touchdown that gave Etowah some breathing room. The two-point try was unsuccessful, making the score 19-7 with 6:26 left in the third period.
“We always talk to the team about turnovers and special teams, and that was the difference in the game,” McCorkle said. “I’m very proud of our team.”
It didn’t remain smooth sailing for the hosts, however. Two plays into the Valley Cubs’ next drive, Tanner Wells found Alton Davis on a 75-yard touchdown pass. Ethan Farlow’s kick cut it to 19-14 with 5:23 left in the third quarter.
There was one last stand required by the Etowah defense before the celebration could begin. Alexandria (0-1) drove to the Etowah 22-yard line midway through the final period. However, on fourth-and-7, Wells was sacked by freshman Stacy Williams to force a turnover on downs. The Blue Devils then took the ball 65 yards in seven plays, capped by a 6-yard scoring run by another 9th-grader, Paul Ruiz. The two-point conversion was good on a run by Ruiz to post the final margin with 2:11 left in the contest.
Alexandria got on the board first in the opening quarter. A six play, 69-yard drive was capped when William Owens got behind the defense and Wells found him for a 50 yard touchdown pass with :59 left in the first period. Farlow added the extra point to make it 7-0 Valley Cubs.
The Blue Devils took advantage of an Alexandria mistake for their first score. Dakota Parrish covered a fumble by Justice Owens at the Valley Cubs’ 42 yard line.
From there, it took Etowah 10 plays, but the Blue Devils punched it in when Tyler Bishop scored on a 1-yard sneak on third-and-goal. Horton’s extra point tied the game at 7 with 4:50 left in the first half.
Late in the second quarter, the Valley Cubs had a scoring chance, driving to Etowah’s 5, but a Wells’ pass was dropped by William Owens on fourth and goal with :21 in the opening half.
For the half, Alexandria gained 166 yards, while Etowah amassed just 46. The tables were turned in the second half, as the Valley Cubs gained only 61 yards (227 yards for the game) while Etowah picked up 97 yards for a final tally of 143 yards.
Bishop completed 9 for 12 for 86 yards while Horton carried the ball 19 times for 50 yards, 62 of which came in the second half. Justice Owens rushed 18 times for 85 yards (only 17 of which came in final two quarters) while Wells hit on 11 of 18 passes for 198 yards.
Etowah opens Class 5A, Region 7 action next week at Fort Payne.