Eagles Fall Short in Opener

RWA’s Webb Yongue (1) fights for a first down at Patrick Henry Friday night.

ESTILL — The Richard Winn Eagles opened their season with a two-and-a-half hour road trip to Estill to face the Patrick Henry Academy Patriots. The game was a slow grind to a 30-26 defeat in humid weather that seemed to sap the strength of both teams before the final buzzer.

After both teams saw their opening possessions stall out, the Patriots got the scoring started on their second drive, starting from their own 44-yard line. The series was capped by a 9-yard touchdown run by Joseph Wilson with 4:50 left in the first quarter. The 2-point conversion attempt failed, and the Pats were up 6-0.

Pinned at their own 15 to start their next possession, the Eagles found enough wiggle room for John Coleman to break a 78-yard touchdown sprint with 3:18 left on the clock. The Pats blocked Mitchell Gibbons’s kick on the PAT and the Eagles had to settle for a 6-6 tie.

Patrick Henry answered back quickly, returning the ensuing kickoff to their own 40 and using two plays to get into Eagle territory. Patriots’ quarterback Cody Youmans then called his own number, breaking through the Eagle defense for a touchdown run. Joseph Wilson tacked on the 2-point conversion run, putting the Pats up 14-6.

The Patriots added to their lead with 4:57 to go in the half when Will Tuten capped a 10-play 59-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run. Tuten added the 2-point PAT as well, upping the ante to 22-6. It would be the final scoring of the half as both defenses stiffened in the waning minutes.

The Patriots forced the Eagles to punt on their opening drive of the second half, but Patrick Henry’s Joseph Wilson fumbled on the return. Mac McDonald scooped the ball up for Richard Winn at the Eagles’ 31-yard line, and the RWA offense was back in business.

Coleman, Matt Taylor and Austin Knox devoured yards on the ground for the Eagle offense, hammering the ball all the way to the Patriot’s 2-yard line. From there, Coleman plowed into the end zone for his second score of the night. The PAT failed, but the Eagles had cut into the Patrick Henry lead, 22-12, with 3:51 left in the third.

The Patriots opened the fourth quarter with a strong drive that carried them all the way down to inside the Eagle red zone, threatening another touchdown, but a crucial fumble in the end zone gave the ball back into Eagle hands at their 20-yard line. The Eagles drove down to the Patriot 17, helped along by a pass from Taylor to Conrad Sharpe, and runs by Coleman, Knox and Taylor. At the Patriot 17, a motion call against the Eagles set them back to the Patriot 22, but two carries by Knox brought the ball back to the Patriot 17, where Taylor ran it in for the score. Coleman added the 2-point conversion and the Eagles were two points from a tie, 22-20, with 2:34 left in the game.

The Patriots fumbled the ensuing kick, but recovered it at their own 45-yard line. One play later, the Pats fumbled it again. The second fumble was recovered by the Eagles, who took possession at the Patriot 45. On the first play of the drive, they were hit with a 15-yard penalty, but rallied enough for Coleman to make a 52-yard touchdown run. The 2-point conversion run failed, but the Eagles were on top of the scoreboard, 26-22 with a scant 1:05 left on the clock.

The lead was short-lived however, and the next Patriot drive saw Wilson run in from the Eagle 37 for the touchdown and turn around with a 2-point conversion to make the score 30-26 with 0:27 on the clock.

A 15-yard penalty for the Eagles on the return set the ball at their 35 and three pass attempts by Taylor were broken up by the Patriots as the final buzzer sounded.

“We just ran out of time,” Eagles head coach Dan Dickerson said. “If we had a little more time and could have kept doing what we were doing (in the second half,) then it could have been a different story.”

Dickerson said after the game that his Eagles played better in the second half than the first half.

“I told the guys that they became a good football team in the second half,” Dickerson said. “To travel two-and-a-half hours and get off the bus and have to warm up 15 minutes later, it took us about a half of football to get ready to go. We still have a young football team, but I really felt they did a good job in the second half.”

Dickerson said the penalties the Eagles racked up, particularly during the second half, were because the Eagles were a little anxious and were being a little too aggressive.

Next week, the Eagles travel to North Charleston to take on Cathedral Academy.

“I don’t know much about them. They didn’t play this week,” Dickerson said. “Next week when we go down there will be their first ball game. We’ve got one game under our belt and they don’t. We’re looking forward to getting a chance to get out there.”