The Eagles made big plays when they had to and took advantage of Cleveland High's misfortunes to walk away with a 21-7 win.
With the win, the Eagles improved to 1-1 on the year while the Wildcats fell to 0-2 on the young season.
For West Bolivar first year head coach Joac Williams the win was a big one especially against a team the caliber of Cleveland High.
"Having played in this game as a player I know what it's about,” Williams said. “Getting my first win against Cleveland High in a rivalry game, there's nothing better than that. It's only one game so we will have a short memory and be back to work on Monday.”
The Wildcats came out in a power formation and drove the ball down the Eagles’ throats. With junior quarterback Vaughnte Dorsey sidelined for the first half, the ball landed in the hands of Earnest Butler.
Butler, the Cleveland High offensive line and lead blockers made room through the West Bolivar defensive front and with 6:37 left in the first quarter Butler plunged into the end zone from 11 yards out. Trace Edwards added the kick after for a 7-0 Cleveland advantage.
The game continued in a fashion where both defenses stepped up and began to force punts.
In the second quarter Cleveland forced West Bolivar to punt again, but this time Butler fought through the protection and blocked the punt which was recovered by Kyran Parker who returned it deep in West Bolivar territory. At the end of the run West Bolivar was flagged for a horse collar penalty, which gave the Wildcats, the ball on the nine-yard line.
The West Bolivar defense refused to concede a score and forced a fourth-and-goal from the six-yard line. The Wildcats elected to do something they had not done the entire first half and that was throw the ball. The Wildcats suffered the consequences as Butler's intended pass for the tight end was intercepted by West Bolivar's Deguadereck Rice who returned it 101 yards for a touchdown with 7:05 left in the first half. The kick after attempt was blocked, but the score was now 7-6.
"We can't take anything away from Cleveland High,” Williams said. “They are a tough team and that's what a rivalry game is supposed to be. They came out in some things we haven't seen, but football is about adjustments so we made ours. The kids stuck in there and kept fighting. The defense was solid and if it wasn't for that first drive we would have had a shut out, but we played a heck of a team.”
Cleveland ended up turning the ball over on downs on its next possession and West Bolivar wasted no time going to work as Lenardo Brown took a speed sweep 37 yards for a score with 1:10 left in the first half. Rodriquez Bush added the kick after for a 13-7 West Bolivar lead.
The game remained stuck at 13-7 until in the third quarter when Cleveland was set to punt, but the snap flew over the punter's head into the end zone where he was tackled for a safety to make the score 15-7.
The Eagles added more points with under one-minute remaining in the fourth quarter when the Wildcats were called for an Illegal shift, but the officials allowed the play to continue which resulted in a fumble and a recovery by West Bolivar's Robert Taylor who returned it 10 yards for a touchdown and a 21-7 lead for the Eagles.
West Bolivar was led on offense by Tayshawn Conway who completed 6-of-9 passes for 73 yards. Lenardo Brown had nine carries for 55 rushing yards with a touchdown, Rice had four catches for 36 yards and Dekeenan Boyd caught one pass for 40 yards to aid the Eagles.
Defensively, Rice led the Eagles with 10 tackles and two interceptions with one returned for a 101-yard TD. Ladarious Tucker had 11 tackles with a sack, and Larry Walker tallied 11 tackles for West Bolivar.
The Eagles will be back in action Friday against Ray Brooks at 7 p.m. in Rosedale The Cleveland High Wildcats will travel to play Leland at 7 p.m. Friday.