Jr. Warriors top rivals to end season
The EPC Junior Warriors hosted their neighbors from down the road as the Marked Tree Junior Indians came to town for EPC's final game of the season. The Junior Warriors jumped out early, withstood a Marked Tree comeback, before posting a 38-22 victory to finish 6-2 on the season.
Marked Tree squibbed kick to open game with Wes Benton falling on the ball for EPC to give them first and ten on their own 30-yard line. EPC drove the ball down the field before Clay Malone hit Malik Monk with a quick pass as Monk broke two tackles on his way to the 32-yard touchdown play. Malone ran the two-point conversion in to put EPC up 8-0 with 5:35 left in the opening quarter. Marked Tree's Julian Booker caught the ensuing kick off on his knees before trying to pitch the ball back to DeAngelo Griffin where Marked Tree started their first possession on their own 20-yard line. Marked Tree got a 12-yard run from Griffin with 1:52 as the Junior Indians went for it on fourth and two. Marked Tree again tried their luck on fourth down but Blake Daniels pass to Griffin was broken up giving EPC the ball on their own 49-yard line with three second left in the quarter.
Monk looked to have a 50-yard touchdown run to start the second quarter but a block in the back brought the ball back to their own 40-yard line. EPC moved the ball down to the 11-yard line before Monk scored his second touchdown of the night on a sweep to the right. EPC used a little trickery to score the two-point pass play. Monk set up to hold the ball for Malone's extra-point kick. He then realized he had the kick off tee and started toward the sideline. As he neared the sideline he tossed the tee as the ball was snapped to Malone who then hit Monk on an up and in pass route. This put EPC up 16-0 with 1:47 left in the half. Marked Tree again pressed their luck on fourth and nine on their next possession only to see Daniels' pass skip out to Griffin giving the ball back to EPC on their own 29-yard line. Monk took the pitch on a sweep play before pulling up and hitting a wide open Kyler Gordon with a 40-yard pass moving the ball down to the Junior Indians 19-yard line with 33 seconds left in the second quarter. Malone dropped back to pass and was flushed out of the pocket finding a lane down the right sideline going19 yards for the score with 17 seconds left in the quarter. Malone ran in the two-point conversion to extend the EPC lead to 24-0. Griffin broke loose for a long gainer only to be run down by Monk as the first half came to an end.
Marked Tree came out the third quarter and cranked up their ground game as they drove down the field with Jaleel Lott taking the ball in from 13 yards out to give the Junior Indians their first points. Griffin added the two-point conversion to make the score 24-8 EPC with 4:22 left in the quarter. EPC recovered the Marked Tree onside kick attempt only to see Chanc Gray fumble on the first offensive play with Griffin scooping up the fumble and returning it to the EPC 40-yard line with 3:48 left in the third. Again using all running plays, Marked Tree drove down the field with Lott again taking the ball in for the score from 13 yards out. Blake Daniels two-point conversion run cut the lead to 24-16 with 2:03 left in the third quarter. EPC responded with a Monk touchdown catch with 1:11 left in the quarter. Malone was stopped on the two-point conversion run as EPC took a 30-16 lead. Jake Steele recovered the Junior Warriors onside kick to set Marked Tree up with first and ten at their own 49-yard line. EPC took a 30-16 lead into the fourth quarter.
Marked Tree sticks to the ground game as Daniels and Griffin both have big gains before Lott scored his third touchdown of the game on a three-yard run with 5:10 left in the fourth. Ethan Hindman sacked Daniels on the two-point pass play to leave the score 30-22 EPC. Kyler Gordon fell on the onside kick to give the Junior Warriors first and ten on their own 48-yard line with 5:09 left in the quarter. Malone had a nice run down to the Marked Tree 19-yard line where a face mask penalty was assessed giving the Junior Warriors the ball on the Marked Tree nine-yard line. Monk took a sweep and found the end zone for the fourth time on the night to push EPC's lead to 36-22. Malone ran in the two-point conversion for a 38-22 lead with 4:21 left in the game. Marked Tree turned the ball over on downs with 1:25 left in the game giving EPC the ball on Junior Indians 47-yard line. EPC ran the clock out to end the game.
Monk finished with 105 yards rushing on eight carries and two touchdowns, 81 yards receiving on three receptions and two touchdowns. He also completed one pass for 40 yards. Malone competed five of his seven passes for 104 yards and two touchdown passes. Malone also rushed for 63 yards on six carries and a touchdown. Gordon added 35 yards on eight carries.
Ethan Hindman led the defense with 10 tackles and two sacks, Monk had nine tackles with Jerritt Watts and Austin Smith each having seven tackles on the night.
Griffin finished with 188 yards on 21 carries while Lott had 71 yards on 13 carries and three touchdowns for Marked Tree.
"Hats off to Marked Tree, they have a good team and they got physical with us there in the second half," EPC coach Brian Weathers commented after the game. "I couldn't be more proud of our team, finishing 6-2 on the season and they got better as the season went on," Weathers added.