EPC tops rival Marked Tree in season finale
The EPC Warriors travelled just down the road last Thursday to play their rival Marked Tree Indians in high school football. EPC handed their hosts a 47-16 loss to end the regular season. Both teams will play the first round of the state playoffs.
Kedrick Tyler returned the opening kickoff for Marked Tree to the EPC 34-yard line to set the Indians with their first offensive series. Octavius Dean and Darius Ivy had nine and five yard runs respectively to move the ball down to the Warriors 20-yard line with 11:04 left in the quarter. Marked Tree got the ball down to the eight-yard line before Ivy was dropped for an eight-yard loss to bring up fourth and seventeen for Marked Tree. Electing to go for the first down, Mookie Sturdivant stepped in front of the Brody McCrary pass as the seven-yard line and returned the ball 53 yards to the Indians' 40-yard line with 7:49 left in the first. Back to back runs from Trevor McDaniel got the Warriors down to the Marked Tree 11-yard line. Aaron Scales kept the ball for six yards down to the five where his brother Byron Scales scored from five yards to make it 6-0 with 4:47 left in the opening quarter. Blake Carter's extra-point made the score 7-0 EPC. Marked Tree returned the kickoff out to their own 29-yard line to start their second possession. The Indians couldn't get the offense clicking and were forced to punt with 3:16 left in the first. Tristan McDaniel fielded the punt and fumbled the ball with Marked Tree recovering at the Warriors 44-yard line. Dean broke off a 10-yard gain on third and five to move the ball down to the EPC 29-yard line with 1:21 left. The quarter would end with EPC leading 7-0.
Marked Tree started the second quarter with third and seven on the EPC 27-yard line. A motion penalty backed the Indians up five yards before Tyler took a hand off and picked up seven yards down to the 25-yard line. Marked Tree went for the first down on fourth and five where Sturdivant dropped Ivy for a six yard loss giving EPC the ball on their own 31-yard line. Aaron Scales wasted little time as the scampered 69 yards on the option keeper to put the Warriors up 13-0 with 10:59 left before half. Carter's point after was good making the score 14-0. Ivy returned the kickoff out to the EPC 46-yard line give Marked Tree good field position to start their next series. Jaleel Lott gained four yards before Ivy picked up 10 yards moving the ball down to the Warriors 32-yard line. Lott fumbled the ball on his next carry with Byron Scales picking it up and returning it to the Marked Tree 38-yard line. A helmet to helmet personal foul against the Indians moved the ball out to the Marked Tree 49-yard line. Sturdivant took the pitch and galloped 48 yards down to the one-yard line. Aaron Scales scored on the quarterback sneak to make the score 20-0 with 8:03 left before half. Carter again was good on the extra-point to make the score 21-0 EPC. EPC got on the board again with 5:32 left as Trevor McDaniel broke loose for a 52-yard touchdown run. Carter again makes the extra-point to push the Warriors lead to 28-0. Marked Tree scored a touchdown with 38 seconds left in the half as Ivy scores from a yard out. Dean ran in the two-point conversion to set the score at 28-8 EPC at the half.
Sturdivant returned the second half kickoff out to the Warriors 45 yard line. EPC gains five yards where a Marked Tree player was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and was ejected from the game. This gave EPC the ball on the Indians 35-yard line with 11:40 left in the quarter. EPC drove the ball down to the one behind the running of Caleb Harston and Aaron Scales to set a one-yard touchdown run from Byron Scales. The point-after is good making the score 35-8 EPC with 7:37 left in the third. Harston fell on an Ivy fumble to give the Warriors the back only to see Sturdivant get the ball stripped right before he goes into the end zone. Marked Tree picked up the loose ball and returned it out to the seven-yard line. The EPC defense forced the Indians to punt from their own eight-yard line. EPC started their next drive at the Marked Tree 40-yard with 3:27 left in the third quarter. The Warriors used a little over a minute to drive the ball down with Trevor McDaniel scoring on a 10-yard run to make the score 41-8 with 2:16 left in the quarter. A dead ball foul moved the EPC team back 15 yards for the extra-point where the Warriors tried a fake kick that was unsuccessful.
EPC's defense came up big again as they stop the Indians on fourth down taking over at the Marked Tree 44-yard line with 11:55 left in the fourth quarter. The Warriors move the ball down field and scored again with 10:16 left as Sturdivant took a swing pass from Aaron Scales and went 19 yards for the score. The point after was blocked leaving the score 47-8 EPC. The mercy rule went into effect after this score. EPC onside kicked the ball with Corbin Truelove coming up with the ball on the Marked Tree 41-yard line. EPC's backups couldn't move the ball and the Warriors turned the ball over on downs on the Marked Tree 37-yard line. Ivy took the pitch and went 63 yards for the touchdown making the score 47-14 with 3:25 left in the game. Brody McCrary hit Dean with the two-point pass to set the final score at 47-14.
"Both teams came out and played hard," EPC coach Brian Weathers said after the game. "We knew we had to finish strong and get ready for the playoffs," Weather added.
EPC amassed 437 rushing on the night with three players going the 100-yard mark. Trevor McDaniel led the team with 129 yards and two touchdowns. Aaron Scales gained 111 yards with two touchdowns and Mookie Sturdivant added 103 yards. Byron Scales added two touchdowns rushing with Sturdivant catching a touchdown pass. Carter was good on five of the seven extra-points.
Byron Scales and Tristan McDaniel led the defense with 12 and 10 tackles respectively.
"We played hard," Marked Tree coach Waylon Dunn commented after the game. "We didn't tackle well and we have to get stronger," Dunn added.
Ivy ended up with 109 yards rushing and two touchdowns for the Indians. Dean added two two-point conversions.
EPC will host Norphlet and Marked Tree will travel to Junction City for the first round of the state football playoffs.