Eagles lose nailbiter to Jefferson Davis

The Eagle defense lines up against Jefferson Davis.

WINNSBORO – The Richard Winn Academy football season came to a heartbreaking end on Friday, November 10, as the Eagles fell short in the semifinals. The Eagles lost a close contest in the final seconds to the Jefferson Davis Raiders. Richard Winn won the coin toss and deferred possession to the second half.

Play was opened as Josh Tyndall’s kickoff was returned by the Raiders to their own 32 yard line. Tony Armstrong gave the Eagles momentum early after sacking Raiders quarterback Wall on first down. The Raiders eventually turned the ball over to the Eagles, but the Eagle drive stalled after two incomplete passes on third and fourth down.

Despite a six-yard sack by Harland Kamb on second down, Wall led the Raiders 68 yards to the end zone to put the Raiders on the board first, 6-0.

Charlie Bonds recovered the Raiders’ onside kick at midfield. Bonds completed a 14 yard pass to Drew Spires on fourth down to move the ball to the Raiders 32 yard line. Eli Smith carried the ball twice to the 22 yard line before the Raiders recovered a Smith fumble at the 21 yard line. A three-yard TD run by Wall rounded out a 13-play, 81-yard drive and put the Raiders ahead 14-0 after a successful two-point conversion.

The Eagles answered on the next drive after Eli Smith recovered the Raider onside kick at the Eagle 48 yard line. Spires carried the ball 37 yards on first down to bring the Eagles inside the red zone. A pair of penalties against the Raiders gave the Eagles excellent field position, and Landon Smith scurried into the endzone. Tyndall’s point-after kick was good, and the Eagles trailed 14-7.

An 80-yard completion to Colson Loadholt, followed by a two-point conversion, gave the Raiders a 22-7 lead with just under two minutes in the first half. The Eagles recovered the Raiders’ onside kick but the drive stopped short after a Bonds interception.

The Eagle defense prevented the Raiders from gaining a yard on the subsequent drive, and the Eagles regained possession following a Raider punt that flew out of bounds at their own 19 yard line. Bonds completed a pass to Spires to the 9 yard line, good enough for a first down. Two penalties by the Raiders gave the Eagles the ball at the two yard line, and Spires scampered into the end zone for the score. Spires completed the two-point play and the Eagles were down 22-15 at halftime.

Jefferson Davis opened second half play with an onside kickoff they recovered at the Eagle 42 yard line. A huge sack by Jonathan Stillwell on fourth down shifted momentum as the Eagles regained possession at their own 40 yard line.

After a 60 yard run by Landon Smith was called back for holding, the Eagles failed to convert for first down and were forced to punt. The Eagle defense stifled the Raiders’ drive with another sack on fourth down. The Eagles took over on downs at their own 46 yard line before the third quarter expired.

The Eagles managed to move the ball to the Raider 25 yard line, but were forced back to the 48 yard line following an offensive pass interference call. Bonds completed a strike to Spires for a 20-yard gain. On fourth down, Bonds found Spires open on a 27 yard pass to the eight yard line. Bonds scrambled his way across the goal line for a touchdown. Bonds completed the two-point conversion, and the Eagles took the lead, 23-22 with 8:40 remaining in regulation.

Tyndall’s kickoff was placed at the Jefferson Davis 13 yard line after a block in the back penalty against the receiving team. Void carried the Raiders on his back, running for 72 yards on four plays of the 11-play drive. Void crossed the goal line on a 35-yard dash to reclaim the lead for the Raiders, 28-23.

The Eagles failed to convert on the next drive, going three and out on three straight incomplete passes. The Eagle defense answered the call, forcing the Raiders to punt on fourth down to the Richard Winn 29 yard line with 26 seconds remaining.

After throwing an incomplete pass on first down, Bonds completed a six yard pass to Landon Smith who ran out of bounds at the 35 yard line. With 2.6 seconds left, Bonds received the snap and looked downfield for an open receiver. He stepped back and heaved the ball towards a host of Eagles, but the Raiders intercepted the pass to end the Eagles’ hopes of reaching the state championship.

Charlie Bonds completed 11 of 19 passes for 115 yards. Drew Spires was the leading receiver, hauling in nine passes for 102 yards. Spires was also the lead rusher, running 56 yards on eight carries and scoring once. Bonds also scored on the ground and ran 21 yards on six attempts. Landon Smith rounded out the Eagle scoring and ran 13 yards on three carries. JT Wilkes led the defense with 12.5 tackles

Eagles Head Coach Paul Brigman praised the Eagles’ effort: “We were disappointed in the way it ended, but we were satisfied with the effort. The team fought hard. We just had a few breaks go against us and could not recover.”

Brigman reflected on the season and is looking ahead to next season: “Looking back, it was a very good year, and the program has a lot to look forward to as we move forward.”

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