Tuesday, October 14, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Falcons dominate War Eagles

Leader sports editor

It took three days more than expected, but the North Pulaski Falcons put an end to their 24-game losing streak on Monday, beating J.A. Fair 27-8 with a dominant performance. The game was halted just 30 seconds into the second quarter because of lightning, and resumed at 7 p.m. Monday with the Falcons leading 7-0.

That first touchdown came midway through the first quarter on a 2-yard quarterback sneak by senior Michael Barnes. The play was set up by a 50-yard pass from Barnes to Myles Bush that made it first and goal.

On the first play from scrimmage on Monday, North Pulaski sophomore Giancarlo Nino intercepted a JaQuan Smith pass and returned it 8 yards to the War Eagles’ 32-yard line.

Running back Myles Hunter took the first handoff 14 yards. Fullback Brady Rhodes then carried up the middle for 16 more to set up another first and goal at the 2. This time Rhodes got the payoff carry and Kilian Oelrich made the extra point to make it 14-0 with9:33 left in the first half.

The two teams then traded three-and-out possessions before the War Eagles finally got a first down. Facing third and 13 at the 5-yard line, Smith hit William Anderson for a 15-yard gain on a screen play. All that was erased soon after.

An incomplete pass was followed by a sack by Rhodes that pushed the Eagles back 9 yards. On third and 19, Rhodes and Hunter McPherson stopped running back Rahsee Modica for a 7-yard loss and forced Fair to punt on fourth and 26 from its own 4-yard line.

The Falcons’ next possession started at the Eagles’ 29, and it took just four plays to get into the end zone again. Facing third and 1, Barnes kept on the quarterback sneak, and the pile surged forward for a 12-yard gain to the 8-yard line. From there, Cedric Handley took the inside handoff up the middle untouched for the score with 1:06 left in the half.

J.A. Fair got it first to start the second half and again went three and out. The Falcons took over on their own 43 and put together a nine-play scoring drive.

An illegal motion penalty set the Falcons back before the drive began and they faced fourth down and 3. Hunter took a handoff around the right side for a 15-yard gain to maintain possession and set up first down at the Fair 37. A holding penalty negated a 37-yard touchdown run by Hunter on the next play and set up first and 15 from the 42. Three plays later the Falcons faced fourth and 8. That’s when Barnes found receiver Dontrell Allen open down the right sideline. Allen made the catch at the 2-yard line and backpedaled into the end zone for the score. The extra point was no good, leaving it 27-0 with six minutes remaining in the third quarter.

North Pulaski coach Teodis Ingram substituted freely from that point, including resting Barnes, though he had to send his starting quarterback back into the game after two subsequent drives resulted in three fumbles, a loss of 22 yards and one turnover.

The War Eagles finally got on the board after the Falcons’ lost fumble set them up just 19 yards from the end zone. It still took eight plays to score from there, with Smith doing most of the work from under center. He picked up 7 yards on fourth and 2 to keep the drive alive. Facing fourth and goal, he kept left again for 4 yards and the score. He also got the two-point conversion to set the final margin with 9:41 left in the game.

North Pulaski out gained J.A. Fair 286 to 85 in total yards. Barnes completed 3 of 6 pass attempts for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Hunter carried 8 times for 85 yards for the Falcons – who played the game despite five players, including three starters, sitting out with injuries.

“It was a good effort by these guys,” Ingram said. “It’s hard to play a game like this on Monday. It’s the first time I’ve ever done it. But these kids showed up here tonight more inspired than I’ve seen them in a while. I’m very proud of them.”

The Falcons, 1-5, 1-2, travel to Sylvan Hills for a 7 p.m. game at Blackwood Field. Fair hosts McClellan on Friday.