Eagles soar in season opener

WINNSBORO – Donning blue jerseys on white pants, the Richard Winn Academy Eagles walked two-by-two from their locker room to the West end zone of Ruff Field before wrecking through the banner onto the field to open their 8-man football season against the Laurens Academy Crusaders on Friday, Aug. 26.

Landon Caulder (10) rushes past the Laurens line. | Millie Lambert

Eagles Head Coach Paul Brigman said the team was “excited to get the season started after a long summer of workouts.”

The Eagles dominated play from the outset, leading 21-0 at halftime and scoring 20 in the second half.

Senior quarterback Landon Caulder set the tone when the Eagles took possession with 8:16 remaining in the first quarter. The dynamic duo of Caulder and junior running back Drew Spires dominated the Eagles’ opening drive. Caulder passed to Spires for consecutive 2 and 8 yard gains, followed by a 13-yard run by Spires to the Eagles’ 38 yard line. Caulder threw a screen pass to Spires on the next play that resulted in a 61-yard touchdown. Later in the first quarter, Caulder connected with senior wide receiver Rob Wilson for a 71-yard touchdown strike.

Caulder commanded the Eagle offense. He was 15 for 18 passing, throwing for 308 yards and four touchdowns. Spires was the primary target, catching six balls for 100 yards and a touchdown. The Eagles’ leading receiver, though, was Wilson, whose 186 yards receiving on three catches resulted in three of the Eagles’ six scores. Seniors Lawson Wade and Jacob Chaisson also had three catches each.

Caulder and Spires shared duties in the ground attack, with Caulder rushing for 109 yards and a touchdown, and Spires running for 53 yards. Sophomore Charlie Bonds also waltzed across the goal line for a touchdown. Sophomore kicker Josh Tindall completed 3 PATs and senior Travis Bonds connected with Charlie Bonds to successfully convert 2 points. The Eagles scored six touchdowns total and amassed 480 yards on offense.

The Crusaders collected 304 yards of total offense but only managed to score twice during the contest, failing to capitalize on penalties.

Early in the second quarter, a 15-yard face-mask penalty by the Eagles turned the Crusaders’ next play into a 23 yard gain to the Eagles’ 26 yard line. The Crusaders were enraged with a missed defensive holding penalty, but a pass interference call against the Eagles on the next play resulted in a Crusaders 1st down. With 1 yard to go on 3rd down, Crusaders quarterback Andrew Codington scurried on a QB keeper to the 4 yard line for a first down. Any momentum the Crusaders had built was stifled when Codington threw across the middle and Eagles defensive back Travis Bonds intercepted the pass at the 1 yard line.

The Eagle defense frustrated the Crusaders with five sacks and two interceptions. Senior linebacker Connor Little led the charge with 13 tackles and 3 sacks. Defensive back Travis Bonds recorded seven tackles and the interception that prevented an early score. Spires also intercepted a pass that he followed up with a touchdown on the very next play. Freshman Eli Smith and sophomore Ethan Steward had one sack apiece.

Brigman was pleased with the execution.

“I felt like we did a good job of executing our plan both offensively and defensively,” he said, acknowledging that the team has room to improve. “We weren’t perfect, and definitely are going to have to play better as we move forward, but we are very encouraged by our performance this week.”

The Eagles travel to Johnston on Friday, Sept. 2 to face off against the Wardlaw Academy Patriots. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

Richard Winn – 14-7-14-6 – 41

Laurens Academy – 0-0-6-8 – 14

First Quarter

RWA – Drew Spires 61 pass from Landon Caulder (Tindall kick) – 6:10

RWA – Rob Wilson 71 pass from Landon Caulder (Tindall kick) – 1:29

Second Quarter

RWA – Rob Wilson 55 pass from Landon Caulder (Tindall kick) – 4:04

Third Quarter

RWA – Landon Caulder 29 run (Tindall kick missed) – 10:29

RWA – Rob Wilson 39 pass from Charlie Bonds (Travis Bonds pass to Charlie Bonds) – 7:54

LA – Buddy Baker 44 pass from Andrew Codington (Andrew Codington pass failed) – 5:29

Fourth Quarter

RWA – Charlie Bonds 1 run (Tindall kick missed) -6:16

LA – Clarence Bertoli 25 run (Andrew Codington pass to Buddy Baker) – 0:00

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