Eagles fall short in playoff opener

WINNSBORO – The Eagles’ playoff hopes were shattered by Clarendon Hall in Friday’s round one gridiron rematch.

When the two teams faced off during the regular season RWA brought home the 47-31 win. However, this time it was the Saints who played the role of the spoiler, escaping with the narrow 29-28 victory.  The loss brought the Eagles to the end of their season with a 6-4 record.

Both teams got off to a slow start offensively, but the defenses got right to work.

Zack Taylor (10) had four touchdowns in the tough one-point loss. | Photo: Martha Ladd

It was not until the 4:11 mark in the second quarter that Eagle QB Zack Taylor rushed from two yards out to put the first points on the scoreboard. Brandon Miller kicked the PAT to give RWA the 7-0 lead.

Miller kicked and recovered the ensuing onside kick to get the Eagle offense back on the field. Taylor led the charge downfield and targeted Ethan McManus with a four-yard touchdown pass.

Miller made good on the PAT again and RWA led 14-0 with 2:26 left in the half. Noah Edwards successfully recovered the Eagles’ second onside kick.

The Eagle offense advanced the ball deep inside the red zone before a fumble recovery by the Saints took the steam from the Eagle engine, but they still took the 14-0 lead into the second half.

Both teams turned the ball over to start the third quarter. The Saints were able to capitalize on the Eagle fumble with a touchdown run. A two-point conversion put the visitors back into the game, 8-14.

Clarendon quickly converted another costly Eagle fumble into 44-yard touchdown. The Saints were in control of the scoreboard for the first time, 16-14.

RWA quickly answered back in four plays with a 35-yard TD run by Taylor, who found Edwards in the end zone for the two-point conversion. Just like that, RWA was back on top, 22-16.

The Saints evened out the scoring five plays later with a 43-yard TD pass, but the two-point conversion failed, leaving the score tied at 22 nearing the end of the third.

It took the Eagles just 7 plays to regain the lead. Taylor hit sophomore receiver Jimmy McKeown for a 30 yard TD pass, but the two-point conversion fell short. Richard Winn took the 28-22 lead into the fourth quarter.

Fourth quarter action began with the Saints scoring on a 13-yard run and the PAT was good, giving CH a slim 1 point lead, 29-28.

The clock was ticking away valuable time for the Eagles, and three plays into their drive, the Saints came up with an interception. Then it was just a matter of getting a first down and using their ground game to run out the clock and steal the one-point victory.

Taylor completed 26 of 33 passes for 240 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. He also had 111 rushing yards in 21 attempts and two more touchdowns to lead the Eagle offense.

Edwards had 10 receptions for 111 yards, McKeown had 5 receptions for 49 yards and a TD, and McManus had a 4-yard TD reception. Peyton Gilbert had a 25 yard kickoff return, 3 receptions for 27 yards, and 12 yards on the ground. Senior Jonny Edenfield led the team defensively with 16 tackles followed by Miller with 12.

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