Eagles have halftime lead but can't finish off Rivercrest

By JOSEPH ELERSON | News-Telegram Sports Writer

Sept. 1, 2007 - JOHNTOWN - The season opener was a tale of two halves for the Como-Pickton Eagles Friday night at The Swamp during a 23-7 loss to the Rivercrest Rebels.

The Eagles (0-1) held a 7-3 lead at the intermission and looked to have the momentum heading into the locker room, but in the second half, Rebels junior quarterback Terrance Cannon scored two touchdowns to put the game out of reach.

"Football is a funny game," CPHS first-year head coach Paul Tullis said. "You can be out there and feel like you are dominating the game and taking care of business and then one play can turn the whole tide.

"I think there was one play tonight when they threw the ball deep and we had the ball in our hands and their hands and they caught the ball and we didn't. I think after that they gained momentum and finished us off after that play."

On that play, Cannon connected with C.J. Landreth for a 43-yard completion to put Rivercrest on the Como-Pickton 2-yard line. After a holding call on Rivercrest, Cannon went on back-to-back 6-yard carries to score his first touchdown of the game for a 9-7 lead with 3:40 remaining in the third quarter.

On the Eagles' next drive, Rivercrest attempted an onside kick but was called for a penalty as they did not let the ball hit the ground before the recovery. On their second attempt at the onside kick, Rivercrest's Chad Proctor interfered on the play and the Eagles were awarded the football.

On the drive, the Eagles were stopped on the Rivercrest 14-yard line and Noe Tellez attempted a 30-yard field goal to regain the lead, but missed it wide right with under a minute remaining in the quarter.

Como-Pickton had their best drive of the game on their opening possession with a nine-play, 62-yard possession as sophomore James Carter capped it off with a 5-yard scamper around the left side of the line for a 7-0 lead. Noe Tellez booted the PAT good.

"The first drive was good. The offensive line came out and did a good job of getting low and getting after them," Tullis explained. "We ran the ball hard and James ran the ball hard and made good cuts, and we made good blocks and scored."

The Rebels capped off the first half scoring on a nine-play, 46-yard drive of their own as Justin Hollingsworth nailed a 38-yard field goal with 8:56 remaining in the second quarter for the 7-3 deficit.

Tullis said offensively the team did well throughout the game but miscues on three drives in particular inside the Rivercrest 30-yard line were crucial in the game.

"We had a fumble in the first half, a holding call in the first half that moved us back to where we couldn't get a touchdown and a missed field goal, and I feel like we should have had three scores," he explained. "They were doing nothing to stop us and we were moving the ball getting six-to-seven yards a carry and we would kill ourselves and shot ourselves in the foot."

In the second half, Rivercrest running back Colby Horn went 20 yards to paydirt straight through the middle of the Eagle defense on a three-play, 38-yard drive for a 16-7 lead.

Cannon scored his second TD of the contest on a 35-yard run around the left side for a 23-7 lead. He finished the night as the game's leading rusher with 254 yards on 23 carries and two TD rushing.

Como-Pickton was led by Carter with 20 carries for 96 yards and one TD rushing. Teammate Brandt Steele had 81 yards on nine carries and Ryan Carpenter had two receptions for 26 yards as the team's leading receiver.

The Eagles defense gave up 387 yards of offense and 17 first downs during the game, while the offense had 212 yards and eight first downs.

CPHS returns to the field next Friday night for their home opener against the Celeste Blue Devils at Ron Heflin Field. The game is also homecoming for the Eagles with festivities scheduled for begin around 7:15 p.m.

"The main thing we need to work on is to try and be a little bit tougher and a little bit meaner on the football field," Tullis said. "I think we are a little bit soft at times and I think that comes back and haunts us.

"We struggled some on defense tonight and I felt like we played soft at times. We came up with some big plays with a couple of fumbles and an interception to stop drives."

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