Eagles wrap up season with loss to Grand Saline

By JOSEPH ELERSON | News-Telegram Sports Writer

Nov. 11, 2007 - COMO - The Como-Pickton Eagles wrapped up the 2007 season on the wrong end of the scoreboard Friday night against the Grand Saline Indians.

Grand Saline (4-6 overall, 3-2 in District 16-2A) spoiled CP's Senior Night with a 38-21 victory at Ron Heflin Field to punch their ticket into the Class 2A state playoffs next Friday night.

This was the final game for Como-Pickton seniors Noe Tellez, Juan Batista, Aaron Kramer, Everado Morales, Mitch Lowe and Wade Arnold.

"The seniors came out and played a great game," said CP first-year coach Paul Tullis. "Noe had a great game throwing the ball, running the ball and catching the ball tonight. Everado did well, as did Mitch in the second half when he got to play. Juan played great and Aaron ran some great routes and caught the ball good tonight.

"It will be tough since we had six seniors and they played both ways, so it really feels like you are losing 12 guys. We will have some young guys coming up that have some playing time and they are going to step up and take the job, and we will do all right."

With the loss, the Eagles finished the season at 3-7 overall and 0-5 in district following an 0-10 season last year under head coach Joe Ryzman.

"I think we have had a successful year," Tullis said. "We would have liked to have won more games, but I think we have turned the corner and we are headed in the right direction. I think the kids played really hard tonight, and in the second half we played lights-out on offense."

In the second half, the Eagles scored 21 points after being shut out in the first half by a strong Grand Saline defense that held them to 47 yards of total offense.

Tullis said the team was dealing with some distractions from earlier in the week.

"We had some issues earlier this week that we had to get resolved. It was all internal stuff and we got it taken care of," he said. "Their defensive line was big and strong coming through and we weren't getting very good blocks. They were able to stop us before we had anything even started."

On third-and-six from the Como-Pickton 36-yard line, Tellez found a streaking Phillip Cox on a 14-yard completion as Cox was hit and fumbled the ball at midfield to end the drive.

The Indians recovered and on the first play of the drive, quarterback Kyle Monty found Bruce Strickland for a 30-yard completion down to the CP 18. Four plays later, Strickland ran right up the middle untouched for the 7-0 lead with 42 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Aaron Cruz booted his first of five PATs good.

After the Eagles' next drive stalled on their own 26-yard line, the Indians put together a 12-play, 55-yard drive that lasted nearly five minutes as Strickland scored his second touchdown of the night on a 5-yard run for the 14-0 lead.

"They are so big and strong on offense that they wore us down on defense," the coach said. "We are going to need some more numbers and kids so that we can rotate them out more, but we are going to be all right."

Grand Saline's Victor Tovar had his first of four interceptions on the Eagles' next drive and the Indians put together a seven-play drive as Cruz nailed a 37-yard field goal for the 17-0 lead at halftime.

On the Eagles' opening drive of the second half, Tellez found James Carter untouched on a 31-yard touchdown completion with 9:54 remaining in the third quarter. Tellez booted his first of three PATs good for the 17-7 deficit.

Tovar picked off his third pass of the game with 4:26 remaining in the third quarter as the Indians scored two plays later to take a 24-7 lead.

Monty had 46 yards on the drive and scored on a 33-yard quarterback keeper down the CP sideline. Monty had 115 yards rushing on seven carries and one touchdown.

The Eagles continued to fight in the fourth quarter following a timeout on fourth-and-12 from the 23-yard line, Tellez found Ryan Carpenter in the back of the end zone for the 24-14 deficit.

Monty broke off another long run of 43 yards on the Indians' next possession and three plays later, Andrew Yarbrough scored on an 8-yard touchdown for the 31-14 lead. He finished with 18 carries for 141 yards and two touchdowns.

On their next possession, the back-and-forth scoring continued as junior quarterback Austin Darby connected with Tellez on a 10-yard reception with 5:48 remaining. Tellez wrapped up his final game with two catches for 33 yards and one touchdown and also went 9-of-18 passing for 139 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Darby completed 2-of-7 passes for 33 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

The Indians wrapped up the scoring as Yarbrough went 54 yards to paydirt for the 38-21 finale.

CPHS was led in rushing by Mitch Lowe with nine carries for 56 yards, while Carter had 11 carries for 10 yards. The Eagles had 34 rushing plays for 82 yards and a 2.4-yards per carry average. Ryan Carpenter was the game's leading receiver with three receptions for 47 yards and one touchdown.

Note: For the second straight year, the Winnsboro Red Raiders won the District 16-2A title with a 35-7 win over Quitman Friday night in Quitman. The Red Raiders will go into the playoffs as the Division I school, while the Bulldogs will go in as the top seed in Division II. In the other district game, Alba-Golden defeated Hawkins 67-26 in Hawkins.

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