Eagles will take winning record into district opener

By JOSEPH ELERSON | News-Telegram Sports Writer

Oct. 7, 2007 - COMO - As the only District 16-2A team playing Friday night, the Como-Pickton Eagles wrapped up their non-district schedule above .500 following a 30-12 win over Blue Ridge at Ron Heflin Field.

CPHS (3-2) will host the Hawkins Hawks (1-4) Friday night in the district opener with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

"I think every team that comes in now their No. 1 goal is to get in the playoffs," said C-P head coach Paul Tullis. "The first five games of the season really don't matter but the season starts right now and we need to get a win against Hawkins. I think if we can get that we will have a chance to compete for a playoff spot."

After a disappointing 58-17 loss to Quinlan Boles last week, Tullis said the team went into this week going back to the basics and the hard work paid off against Blue Ridge.

"We came out last week in practice and worked on our technique and getting back to the basics," he said. "We did a good job of coming off the ball tonight and did a good job in the second half of taking control with our offensive line dominating and pushing those guys back."

On the opening drive of the game, the Eagles marched down the field behind a strong running attack from James Carter and Noe Tellez as Carter had 36 of his 42 yards rushing during the opening drive. After suffering a bruised foot in the first half, Carter remained sidelined for the rest of the game.

Carter capped off the nine-play, 66-yard drive with a 6-yard touchdown on second-and-goal. Tellez kicked the first of his three PATs for a 7-0 lead.

"He (James) has a bruised foot and is day-to-day," Tullis said. "He probably could have went in and played the second half, but we felt like we didn't need him so we held him out."

Blue Ridge battled back on its next possession with a drive that lasted over seven minutes. The Tigers had 13 running plays to only one pass as Daniel Stailey and Michael Ladner had a heavy dose of carries during the drive.

Stailey capped off the drive with an 8-yard touchdown, but the Tigers failed to convert the PAT with 8:44 remaining in the second quarter as the Eagles held a 7-6 lead.

CPHS came back with a long drive of its own that lasted over six minutes, but the Tigers found a way to stop the Eagles on the Blue Ridge 4-yard line. Noe Tellez kicked a 22-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 10-6 lead at the half.

"We have struggled some on defense all year long," the coach said. "We started out slow but we kind of figured them out late in the first half and were able to shut them down."

The Eagle defense held Blue Ridge to 91 yards rushing on 28 carries (3.25 yards per rush) as Stailey led the way with 12 carries for 29 yards and one touchdown. Ladner finished with six carries for 25 yards.

With Carter out for the Eagles to open the second half, senior Mitch Lowe stepped up along with junior Spencer Boyd on their opening drive as Lowe had 27 yards during the drive. Boyd rushed for 17 of his 68 yards during that drive.

"Spencer is just like all of the other guys that we have. He comes out to practice and does everything that you ask him to," the coach said. "He is going to go 100 percent and I have no problems with putting him in there."

On third-and-3 from the Blue Ridge 13-yard line, Tellez rolled out of the pocket and found Keith Anderson in the end zone as Anderson had to take the ball away from a defender for the touchdown. Following the PAT, the Eagles held a 17-6 lead before Blue Ridge came close to knocking on the door once again.

After a long kickoff return by Ladner, senior Juan Batista came up with his second turnover as Tiger quarterback Josh Webb fumbled the ball on the Eagles' 6-yard line. Batista also had an interception in the first half.

After a first down run by Boyd, Tellez found a streaking Ryan Carpenter on a crossing route for a 46-yard completion down to the Tigers' 34-yard line. Two plays later, Boyd fumbled the ball and Tigers' defensive end Brit Brooks recovered the ball and went 70 yards to paydirt for the 17-12 deficit.

"When they returned the fumble down for the touchdown, it was scary for us and I was worried that we could crater and get our heads down," Tullis said. "We were able to hold our heads up and had a nice drive and scored and that pretty much sealed the game for us."

The Eagles scored the final 13 points on back-to-back drives as Lowe capped off an eight-play drive with a 10-yard touchdown as he hopped over a defender for the score. Boyd had a key fourth-and-6 conversion during the drive with a 15-yard run down the Como-Pickton sideline.

Boyd scored his first touchdown of the year on a 5-yard scamper with 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter for the 30-12 finale.

Lowe led the way for the Eagles with 11 carries for 102 yards and one TD. Quarterbacks Tellez and Austin Darby went 7-of-9 passing for 133 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. Tellez was 5-of-6 for 101 yards and one touchdown.

The remaining District 16-2A opening games next week have Quitman (4-1) traveling to Alba-Golden (2-3), while Grand Saline (1-4) hosts Winnsboro (4-1).

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