Edgewood outpaces Eagles run game
Fort Dale Academy dominated time of possession but little else, as the Eagles’ running game failed to match the pace of a high-powered Edgewood Academy offense.
With the arm and legs of Wildcats quarterback Nathan Rourke, the visiting Edgewood team had little trouble finding the end zone, ultimately heading home with a 58-14 win.
But it didn’t look so effortless on the Wildcats’ first defensive series, as running back Tyler Price was taken down in the backfield well short of a first down on Edgewood’s first third-down attempt. But a jumpy Eagles defensive line proved a little too fired up, renewing the Wildcats’ set of downs with an offsides penalty.
The second fourth down attempt of the drive proved equally successful as Rourke found receiver Maurice Young behind the FDA secondary and delivered a laser-like touchdown pass to take an early 7-0 lead.
Fort Dale’s answer—a relentless run game with quarterback Luke Taylor and running backs Clay Mansmann and Andrew Salter at the helm—proved successful until a high-flying fumble landed perfectly in the hands of an Edgewood defender, giving the Wildcats a short field and an easy second score.
Fort Dale continued to dominate the clock with a run game that consumed the entire first quarter, taking the ball to the one-yard line at the top of the second quarter. But a costly fumble on fourth and short left the Eagles with nothing to show for it.
But the third time proved the charm as Salter found paydirt on a quick three-yard jaunt for the Eagles’ first touchdown of the night, and Jake Gillem tacked on a PAT to cut the lead to 15-7 with four minutes remaining in the half.
But an undeterred Wildcats offense made excellent use of the remaining clock, scoring twice in quick succession to take a 30-7 halftime lead.
FDA head football coach James “Speed” Sampley said that two costly fumbles and a drive cut short just outside of the end zone proved fatal.
“They are very good, and you can’t give them anything,” Sampley said.
“The first time, we didn’t score and fumbled inside the two yard-line, and we fumbled one time and gave them a short field. And some of that’s on me—we tried some fourth-down plays because we know they’re going to score, and we wanted to try to keep the ball away from them. I probably should’ve punted several times, but I didn’t.”
The second half belonged entirely to the Wildcats, despite a one-two punch from Mansmann and Salter that resulted in the Eagles’ second and final score of the night with 2:15 remaining in the third.
Sampley said that the Wildcats proved a great early postseason barometer for the Eagles prior to next week’s meeting with Bessemer.
“They were probably a good get-ready game to play Bessemer because they do a little bit of everything,” Sampley said.
“Bessemer’s got a really good team, and we will have to be well-prepared and not make mistakes to have a chance.”