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Fort Dale edges Clarke Prep in AISA action

Quarterback Brett Paulk dove into the end zone for a two-point conversion to give the Fort Dale Academy Eagles a thrilling 28-26 overtime win over the Clarke Prep Gators Friday night in Greenville.

With the win Coach Speed Sampley's Eagles improved to

2-0 heading into next week's big Alabama Independent School Association showdown with Morgan Academy. Clarke Prep dropped to 1-1.

A relieved Sampley said after the game that he was proud of the way his team played against a determined opponent, but he admitted there are areas of the Eagles' game that need work before next week's contest.

"This week we've got to work on getting everybody well

and tweak our offense a little because we weren't very potent in the second half," Sampley said. "Turnovers and penalties like to have got us tonight, but we played hard to the end and managed to pull it out."

Fort Dale came out strong in the first quarter putting together a methodical 12-play, 58-yard drive for the game's first score. Digger Kimbro capped the march with a one-yard run. The extra point attempt failed leaving the Eagles with a 6-0 advantage at the 6:06 mark of the opening period.

The Eagles' second scoring drive covered 62 yards in six plays and was highlighted by Taylor Hawsey's 39-yard scamper to the Clarke Prep 11. Brett Paulk carried the ball in from the nine for the touchdown with 8:59 left in the first half to extend FDA's lead to 12-0. The try for two failed.

Midway through the period Clarke Prep claimed a Fort Dale fumble at the Eagles' 32 to set up its first touchdown of the evening. Heath Bradford got the touchdown on a 13-yard run. The kick was good cutting Fort Dale's lead to 12-7 with 2:46 left in the second quarter.

Fort Dale responded with another touchdown march just before the half. Brady Newton had a 27-yard run on the five-play, 61-yard drive to set up the score. Kimbro got the touchdown on a 26-yard scamper to give the Eagles a 20-7 lead at intermission.

In the second half everything went Clarke Prep's way. The Gators cut Fort Dale's lead to 20-14 midway through the third quarter on a five-play, 70-yard drive. Christopher Etheridge scored the touchdown on a 59-yard run with 5:40 remaining in the period. The extra point attempt was good.

The Eagles fumbled the ensuing kickoff at their own 27 setting up Clarke Prep's next score. Bradford got the touchdown on a 13-yard run. The extra point attempt failed, but with 5:00 left in the third quarter the game was tied 20-20.

That's the way it remained until overtime. In the extra period Clarke Prep went on offense first and quickly took the lead on Bradford's 10-yard run around left end. On the extra point attempt Fort Dale's Michael McDonald crashed through to block the kick leaving the Gators with a 26-20 advantage.

Fort Dale then took its crack at the end zone and Sampley elected to put the ball in Kimbro's hands for three consecutive plays. Kimbro gained eight yards on first down, and then moved the ball within inches of the goal line on second-and-goal. On third down the senior running back dove into the end zone from one-yard out tying the score at 26-26.

Sampley chose to go for two on the conversion attempt and Paulk ended the hard fought contest with his run around left end.

Fort Dale's offense picked up 306 yards on the ground and an additional 37 through the air for 343 total yards. Kimbro led the ground attack with 111 yards on 24 carries. Brett Paulk picked up 62 yards on six tries while Hawsey had 44 yards on four attempts. Newton and Chuck Barrett each had 38 yards rushing on three and seven carries respectively.

Paulk completed five of 15 passes for 37 yards. Andrew Hollis was on the receiving end of four of those tosses for 33 yards.

FDA's defense gave up 206 yards on the ground and none through the air in Friday's win. Kimbro led the way with 10 tackles. Barrett was in on six while Clay Beverly came up with a big fumble recovery.

The Eagles return to action next week in their battle with AISA Class 3A rival Morgan Academy. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. in Greenville.