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Fort Dale pounds Glenwood, 38-7

Fort Dale head coach James “Speed” Sampley doesn’t gamble that often.

But he had already watched an opening kickoff, 85-yard touchdown run by Daniel Nolan wiped out because of a penalty and he was trying to send his team a message. The Eagles were facing a fourth down and five on their own 42-yard line.

It was their first offensive possession.

Sample told his team to go for it.

“What we’re trying to establish with our offense is that they can score from anywhere on the field,” said Sampley. “We’re trying to convince them.”

Quarterback Hunter Armstrong’s pass, though, fell incomplete. A few plays later Glenwood’s Carson Bowers went 21 yards for the game’s first touchdown. The top-ranked Eagles were behind 7-0 with 7:08 still left in the first quarter.

Consider Sampley’s message sent.

Fort Dale scored 38 unanswered points before halftime and improved to 2-0 (1-0) on the year with the 38-7 victory. Armstrong tossed touchdown passes of 54 and 55 yards and the Eagles’ defense forced five fumbles while holding the Gators to 104 total yards of offense.

The game was nowhere close to the 21-19 thriller at Glenwood last year.

But Sampley knew he was playing against an overmatched team this season.

“They’re (Glenwood) going to be good in a couple of years,” said Sampley. “They were playing with mostly tenth graders tonight and one senior. For us, though, we played well, but we came out flat early. We’ve got to have the same sort of fire we had last week.”

Todd Burkett’s 15-yard touchdown run tied the game in the first quarter, 7-7, and soon after that Fort Dale touchdowns were coming like clockwork. On the Eagles’ next possession, Armstrong floated a pass to Nolan in the flat and the senior running back out-raced everyone to the endzone for a 54-yard touchdown. Fort Dale led 14-7.

Senior linebacker Daniel Lowe, who led the defense with nine tackles, then forced a Glenwood fumble and Cooper Lewis recovered at the Gators’ eight-yard line. One play later, Nolan met a would-be tackler at the goaline, planted him, and scored standing up, giving Fort Dale a 21-7 lead.

Next, Armstrong connected with Luke Hutcheson on a crossing pattern with 11:11 left in the second quarter for a 55-yard touchdown.

Sampley was generally pleased with the play of his first-year starting quarterback.

“He (Armstrong) made some good decisions,” said Sampley. “He’s just got to learn to make the right reads like on that touchdown pass to Luke…he made an excellent read. We need him to make smart decisions like that one every game.”

Defensive back Dustin Till scooped up another Gators’ fumble and went 25 yards for the touchdown and Sean McKeague added a 24-yard field goal for the Eagles before halftime.

Fort Dale totaled 289 yards of offense, 180 on the ground, with Armstrong the leading rusher at 43 yards. Nolan added 42. Alex Bloodworth had six tackles on the defensive side of the ball.

Fort Dale travels to play Pike Liberal Arts School in Troy next Friday night. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.