Eufaula rallied late to pull out an overtime victory that sent an enthusiastic Booker T. Washington home crowd away disappointed — but pleased with the Golden Eagles’ upset bid effort.
“This is probably the toughest loss we’ve had since I’ve been the head coach at BTW. After their first scoring drive in the first quarter, we controlled the entire game until they scored the last 30 seconds to tie it up and the overtime period,” said Golden Eagle Coach Maurice Heard about the 29-22 setback.
“While we are extremely disappointed in the loss, I am so proud of the team and the effort we put forth. We had several opportunities to put the game away but just didn’t make the plays to get it done. We had some missed assignments and nine penalties that were crucial and when you're playing a good team like Eufaula.
“We have minimize those two areas to give ourselves a chance to win against a good program like Eufaula. This loss hurts, especially when we realize we really outplayed Eufaula for 47 minutes of the game and didn't finish them.”
The Golden Eagles dropped to 1-1 overall for the young season and 0-1 in Class 5A, Region 2 action. Eufaula improved to 2-1 in all games and 1-0 in the region.
After spotting Eufaula a 7-0 lead, BTW took an 8-7 advantage late in the first quarter on a 3-yard run by sophomore quarterback Joseph Graham who then ran in the 2-point conversion.
BTW moved ahead 16-7 in the second quarter following a 51-yard touchdown run by senior Dyrese Hubbard and another 2-point conversion run by Graham. Eufaula answered with a 35-yard TD run and a kick for extra point to cut the lead for the home team to 16-14.
The Golden Eagles moved ahead 22-14 on a 48-yard pass from Graham to Jermarieon Harris late in the second quarter. A try for the 2-point conversion failed and BTW led by eight points at the half.
Then Eufaula scored in the final minute on a 1-yard run and ran for the 2-point conversion. The visiting Tigers scored on a 3-yard run and kicked the extra point in overtime for the victory.
“Defensively, we played well. We held them to two touchdowns in the first half and went into the half up 22-14,” Heard pointed out. “The entire defense can be credited for that. After their first scoring possession we made some corrections and played better in the first half. In the second half we held Eufaula scoreless until the last 30 seconds of the game.
“Tyran Burnside, Daniel Bettis, Joe Phillips, and Jeremiah Marshall led our defensive effort and played well. We’re getting better on defense, but a few missed assignments that allowed them to get in position to tie the game up late in the fourth quarter. Before this season is over, this defense is going to be a pretty good unit.”
Burnside recorded seven tackles with a sack. Mose also had seven tackles with Marshall adding six stops and Phillips five tackles.
The Golden Eagles did many positive things on offense.
“I thought we played well and executed our game plan. We knew they were trying to go fast and on offense and our plan was to be deliberate on offense to slow them down and limit the number of opportunities their offense would have. We knew that would frustrate them and make them uncomfortable. It worked for the most part but we needed to go up two scores to win the game and we weren’t able to get it done,” Heard explained.
“We had several opportunities to put it away, but penalties, dropped passes and a fumble at a crucial point prevented that. We had over 400 yards on offense and Dyrese Hubbard rushed for over 240 yards on 20 carries, despite missing most of the 4th quarter with a sprained ankle. That hampered us a little but we have to be able get it done.
“The offensive line, while young, played better and is beginning to gel. Joseph Graham stepped up and played better for us. He ran the ball well and hit a couple of big passes to put us in position to win the game. Jermarieon Harris Had a big touchdown catch for us as well.”
Hubbard finished with 242 yards rushing on 19 carries. Graham added 84 yards while carrying the ball 18 times and Brian Mose added 30 yards on nine carries.
Graham passed only seven times, connecting twice for 59 yards, including the touchdown strike to Harris.
Missed opportunities made a difference in the outcome.
“We had several opportunities to put it away. We were inside the 5-yard line twice and didn’t get any points. We overthrew a wide open receiver in the first quarter that would have resulted in a touchdown and dropped a pass in the end zone at the end of the first half would have allowed us to go into halftime up two scores,” Heard said.
“We had a high snap on the 3-yard line that put us in a bad position and didn't get any points out of that drive. We just have to go back and work on finishing the game. Even, without a score two more first downs and we win the game.
“While, we’re all disappointed we’re encouraged about the growth of the program and the rest of the season. One game doesn't make a season and we have a lot of football left to play. We’ll regroup, make the necessary corrections and get ready for our second region game at Rehobeth this Friday.”
Rehobeth defeated Headland 28-0 last week in region play to go to 1-0 in the region and 2-1 overall.