Every year when someone looks at the region standings, they are always the top two teams. Friday’s night’s contest here at Leland Young Stadium was the Region 3-2A opener for both teams and was one of the more highly anticipated games of the week.
Both teams played each other, but in the end the West Bolivar Eagles prevailed with a 19-12 victory. The Eagles improved to 4-2 with a 1-0 mark in the region, while South Delta fell to 3-4 with an 0-1 mark in the region.
“I think we came out tonight and executed,” West Bolivar head coach Joac Williams said. “My hats off to coach Hooker and his staff. The game lived up to the hype.”
The Eagles’ defense and special teams came up big on two big occasions towards the end of the game. Late in the game the Bulldogs went on a nice drive and got deep inside Eagles’ territory.
On third down, the Bulldogs tried to get a first down on a run play, but when the chain gang hit the field to measure the spot it was indicated that they came up short.
With under 4:00 remaining in the game the Bulldogs went for it on fourth and short around the Eagles' 15-yard line, but the West Bolivar defense stopped them cold to take over on downs.
“That defensive stop was very big for us,” Williams said. “It just teaches them what we preach to our kids on defense. We teach them bend but don’t break. They bent but they didn’t break and they came down with a big fourth down stop.”
The Eagles couldn’t score on its possession and ended up having to punt with 10 seconds left in the contest. The Bulldogs couldn’t handle the punt as West Bolivar freshman Walter Walker recovered the ball to help secure the win for the Eagles.
In the first quarter, the Eagles were able to draw first blood as quarterback Tayshawn Conway marched on a 35-yard touchdown run. The extra point kick was good, and the Eagles led 7-0.
In the second quarter, South Delta battled put up its first points of the game as Hakeem Johnson charged on a one-yard touchdown run with 5:12 left in the first half. The Bulldogs tried to two-point conversion, but the Eagles’ defense came up big to keep the game at 7-6.
The Eagles were able to get their offense going again as Leonardo Brown and Gregory Robb did a good job of running the ball. With 59 seconds left in the first half, the Eagles showed they could pass it as Conway connected with Deguadereck Rice on a 35-yard touchdown pass. The extra point kick attempt was no good, but West Bolivar ended up leading 13-6 going into halftime.
The offense didn’t stop for West Bolivar in the third quarter as Brown was able to hit pay dirt on one-yard touchdown run with 6:25 left in the quarter. The two-point conversion was unsuccessful, but the Eagles still led 19-6.
South Delta didn’t give up as quarterback Aric Davis found Terrale Washington on an 11-yard touchdown pass with 8:47 left in the game. The West Bolivar defense’, led by Larry Walker who recorded 13 tackles, stopped the Bulldogs again to keep the score at 19-12 which ended up being the final.
Ladarious Tucker aided West Bolivar’s defense with 11 tackles, followed by Ladarious Ford and Brown with nine tackles each and Rodriguez Bush with six tackles.
On offense for the Eagles, Conway did a solid job under as he completed 4-of-7 passes for 75 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions and rushed for 47 yards with a touchdown on seven carries. Brown and Robb did a nice job anchoring the ground game as Brown rushed for 78 yards on 15, while Robb rushed for 57 yards on 12 carries.
“Any time you have three kids like that that can run the ball effectively, you increase your chances to win the ball game,” Williams said.
The Eagles’ next opponent will be against Riverside in Avon on Friday for another region.
Williams said the most crucial thing for his team to remember is the win against South Delta is just one win and the region title is very much anybody’s to take.
“Us and South Delta have been one and two over the last couple of years so it’s big to get that win over them,” Williams said. “We’re 1-0 in the division right now, but we can’t get happy because there’s a lot of other teams in here. On any given night, anyone can win. We’ve got to come back Monday and go back to work.”