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FDA mounts second-half comeback over Sparta Academy

The Fort Dale Eagles overcame a narrow halftime deficit with a  fearsome ground game to claim a convincing 40-22 win over the Sparta Academy Warriors.

It was the Eagles who struck first early in the first quarter when quarterback Luke Taylor connected with Stephen Hartley on an 80-yard touchdown pass to give FDA a 7-0 lead with 6:11 remaining in the first.

The Warriors answered the challenge minutes later, however, on the ensuing drive.  Sparta chose the riskier two-point conversation attempt afterward and succeeded to take a narrow 8-7 lead.

The Eagles responded in kind as Taylor muscled his way into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown run, though a failed point-after attempt only earned FDA a 13-8 lead.

Quick to respond, Sparta marched down the field once again on the following drive to mount a second lead, taking a 14-13 lead and momentum headed into the locker rooms at the half.

But the dynamic duo of Clay Mansmann and Andrew Salter kept the Eagles firmly in control of the clock and the game throughout the second half.

Mansmann was the first to strike with 7:17 remaining in the third on a 14-yard jaunt to paydirt for a touchdown and the Eagles’ third lead.

Salter would provide an encore performance not even a minute later on a 6-yard run of his own, and a successful 2-point conversion placed the Eagles ahead comfortably 27-14.

Down but not out, the Warriors mounted a counterattack late in the third to cut the Eagles lead to just five, but a third touchdown from Taylor closed the third quarter and kept the momentum firmly on the Eagles side as Fort Dale took a 33-22 lead heading into the final quarter of play.

A defeated and deflated Warriors offense failed to find the end zone in the fourth quarter, but a second touchdown pass to Hartley sealed the deal with 48 seconds on the clock.

Taylor finished the evening with 11 carries for 109 yards and two touchdowns.

He was also 8 for 12 for 194 passing yards.

Mansmann finished with 86 yards on 9 carries, and Salter with 49 yards on 13 carries.

Hartley had 3 receptions for 101 yards, and Mansmann led all defenders with 10 tackles.

Salter and Cody Parker each finished with two sacks, and Colby Stone had 1 sack.

FDA earned 279 of its 473 yards on the ground, and held Sparta to 211 yards of total offense.

The Eagles travel to Hooper Academy Friday to resume region play.