Big second half propels Warriors
The EPC Warriors and Cross County Thunderbirds met in Lepanto Friday for senior high football action. The first half was a classic football contest. Playing without two key linemen, EPC made the changes they needed and dominated the second half to post a 35-0 win to remain undefeated on the season.
EPC got the ball first after recovering an onside kick to start the game. The offense picked up one first down before they were facing fourth and twelve on the Cross County 48-yard line as they decided to go for the first down. Aaron Scales' pass fell incomplete as Cross County took over on downs with 8:50 left in the opening quarter. Cross County's offense couldn't get a drive going and they too decided to try their luck on fourth down. Caleb Harston made a tackle for a loss to give the ball back to EPC with 6:50 left in the first. EPC drove the ball down to the Cross County 21-yard line but the Cross County defense stiffened holding the Warriors to no gain on a fourth and one play with 4:21 left to play in the first quarter to take possession of the ball. EPC's defense forced Cross County to punt on their next possession with 1:18 left to play in the first quarter. The quarter ended with the score 0-0.
Harston scored EPC's first points as he took the option pitch around right end and raced 27-yards to the end zone. Blake Carter's extra-point made the score 7-0 EPC with 10:57 left to go in the second quarter. Cross County threatened to score on their next possession taking the ball down to the Warriors seven-yard line before the running back coughs up the ball with Quinn Young scooping it up and returning it out to the EPC 23-yard line. Mookie Sturdivant stopped the Thunderbirds next scoring opportunity by intercepting a pass at their own four-yard line. The teams trades possessions for the remainder of the half as they went to half with the score 7-0 EPC.
Harston came up big on defense again as he sacks the Cross County quarterback on fourth down giving EPC the ball on their own 22-yard line with 8:26 left in the third quarter. EPC found the end zone again with Trevor McDaniel taking a swing pass from Aaron Scales and racing 53-yards for the score with 6:18 left in the quarter. Carter's extra-point extends the lead to 14-0 EPC. Tristan McDaniel had a big punt return to set EPC up with first and ten from the Cross County 10-yard line. Aaron Scales scores on a quarterback keeper to push the lead to 20-0 with 2:06 left in the third. Carter is again good on his extra-point making the score 21-0.
EPC held Cross County on downs to open the fourth quarter and takes over on their own 42-yard line. EPC used only three plays to find the end zone on their next possession. Following a big run by Harston and a pass completion to Trevor McDaniel, Sturdivant scores on an 11-yard run with 10:52 to go in the quarter. Carter's extra-point makes the score 28-0 EPC. Tristan McDaniel closed out the scoring for the Warriors taking a 12-yard pass from Aaron Scales for the score with 6:37 left to play. Carter's fifth extra-point sets the final score at 35-0.
Harston led a balanced rushing attack gaining 84 yards on seven carries. Trevor McDaniel finished with 59 yards on eight carries and had a touchdown reception. Sturdivant added 51 yards on four carries and a touchdown. Byron Scales had 41 yards on four carries. Tristan McDaniel had a touchdown catch while Aaron Scales threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score.
The EPC defense held the Thunderbirds to 144 yards of total offense and had eight sacks on the night. Tristan McDaniel recorded 17 tackles on the night with Byron Scales adding 13 stops. Harston recorded five sacks on the night while Young had a fumble recovery and Sturdivant added an interception.
"We were kind of man handled up front the first half and were not able to get the ball outside," EPC coach Brian Weathers said after the game. "We made a little adjustment up front, completed a few passes and fought hard for the win," Weathers added. "Our defense was outstanding again tonight," Weathers said.