Warriors win state playoff opener
The EPC Warriors (11-0) and ranked #2 in Class 2A, cruised to a 48-14 first round win over Mineral Springs in the Class 2A state football playoffs in Lepanto this past Friday.
EPC got the ball first and drove down to the Hornets 38-yard line before turning the ball over on downs as Aaron Scales' pass to brother Byron fell incomplete with 9:54 left.. The Hornets were forced to punt on their first possession giving the ball back to the Warriors. The Warriors started their second drive from their own 28-yard line. The Warriors drove down field with Aaron Scales capping the drive with a one yard quarterback sneak for the touchdown. Trevor McDaniel ran in the two-point conversion making it 8-0 EPC with 2:51 left in the opening quarter. Mineral Springs couldn't get the offense on track on their next possession and were forced to punt with 38 seconds left in the quarter. A short punt gave EPC the ball on the Hornets 34-yard line.
EPC took advantage of the short punt as Aaron Scales hit a wide open McKenzie Betts with a 24-yard touchdown pass less than a minute into the second quarter. Byron Scales ran in the two-point conversion to make it 16-0 Warriors with 11:01 left. The Hornets had to punt again on their next possession and the Warriors were flagged for roughing the punter giving the Hornets a first down with 9:00 left before half. Mineral Springs couldn't capitalize on the penalty and were forced to punt with 6:38 left. The Warriors moved the ball out to midfield before Trevor McDaniel broke through and scampered 50 yards for an EPC score. Byron Scales again added the two-point conversion run making it 24-0 with 6:09 left. The Hornets got on the board when Kendrick Langston hit Markeies Moore with a seven yard touchdown pass with 1:23 left. Langston passed to Cameron Lacy for the two points to make the score 24-8 EPC.
Mineral Springs got the ball first the second half and had trouble handling the kickoff forcing them to start at their own nine-yard line. The Hornets offense again was ineffective and were forced to punt with 10:37 left in the third. A short Hornets punt gave the Warriors first and ten at the the Mineral Springs 35-yard line. The Warriors again took advantage of the short punt as Byron Scales scored on a 12 yard run. Aaron Scales passed to Betts for the two-point conversion making the score 32-8 with 9:44 to play. The Hornets moved the ball down to the Warriors 37-yard and faced fourth and five. Mineral Springs came up a yard short on fourth down giving the ball back to EPC. The Warriors drove down to the Hornets eight-yard line before a holding penalty backed them up to the 18-yard line. Facing a fourth and twenty-six from the Hornets 26-yard line, the Warriors elected to go for a first but Aaron Scales' pass to Quinn Young fell incomplete giving the ball to the Hornets with 2:14 to play in the third quarter. The Hornets gave the ball back to EPC as Hornet Xavier Williams took a big hit from Aaron Scales knocking the ball loose with Quinn Young falling on the ball for the Warriors on their own 38-yard line as the third quarter came to an end.
The Warriors capitalized on the Hornet miscue as Trevor McDaniel scored on a 19 yard run with 8:19 left in the game. Byron Scales added his third two-point run to make it 40-8 Warriors. EPC's T.J. Young came up with an interception off a tipped pass giving the Warriors the ball at their own four-yard line with 6:55 left. Byron Scales took the handoff on the first play after the turnover and sprinted 96 yards for a Warriors touchdown. Kyler Gordon added the two-point conversion run to make it 48-8 and invoke the mercy rule. The Hornets added a score with about a minute left in the game as Velcoff scored on a two yard run. The two-point try was no good setting the final score at 48-14 Warriors.
"Huge win! It was a big challenge for our defense, they had a field full of athletes," EPC coach Brian Weather said after the game. "We never gave up the big play. Hats off to our defense and our offensive line. We were able to run between the tackles and when you do that we tend to have a lot of success. Great overall win and I'm proud of the guys," Weathers added.
Trevor McDaniel led the Warrior offense with 186 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Byron Scales finished with 171 yards on the ground with two touchdowns and three two-point conversion runs. Aaron Scales passed for 70 yards and touchdown while rushing for 27 yards and a touchdown. Betts had a touchdown reception and a two-point pass reception.
Byron Scales led the defense with 14 tackles, 10 of which were solo tackles. Tristan McDaniel had six tackles, a quarterback sack and a blocked punt. Quinn Young had an interception and fumble recovery.
EPC will host Hazen in the second round of the Class 2A state playoffs Friday, November 22. Kickoff is set for 7.