West Bolivar senior running back Kailo Moore was up for the challenge here at Leland Young Stadium Friday night as he rushed for an impressive 278 yards with two touchdowns on just 15 carries to lead the Eagles to a 37-15 win over the Ackerman Indians in the second round of the 2A State Football Playoffs. The Eagles improved to 11-2, while the Indians ended its season at 9-4.
Moore, who struggled early in the year, has gotten a huge bulk of his rushing yards over the last three games by rushing for a total of 597 yards with eight touchdowns on just 42 carries.
“Kailo showed up,” West Bolivar head football coach Henry Johnson said. “That’s the real Kailo. If he keeps performing like he’s been performing, it’s going to be hard to beat us.”
West Bolivar jumped on top of Ackerman in the first quarter when Kylan Johnson connected with Dennis Pendleton on an 88-yard touchdown pass with three minutes left on the clock. A bad snap made it impossible for Ladarius Tucker to kick the extra point, but The Eagles took a 6-0 advantage. The Eagles defense played tough through out the first half as the Indians were forced to punt at the end of each of their first four possessions of the game.
The Eagles’ offense racked up yards with Moore gaining the bulk of the yardage. His first big run was a 67-yard march down the field, but the Eagles weren’t able to take advantage. Moore’s second big run of the first half proved very beneficial as he galloped on a 79-yard run for a touchdown with 4:27 left in the second quarter. The two-point conversion pass was incomplete, but the Eagles had increased their lead to 12-0.
As the first half came to a close, the Indians were able to move the ball and get deep into Eagles’ territory. With seconds ticking off the clock, Ackerman quarterback Dakota Brasher marched into the end zone on a one-yard keeper. The extra point kick from Taboris Lee was successful, and the Indians trialed 12-7 going into the lockerroom at halftime.
The drive caused some controversy as coach Johnson went out on the field and argued the with the officials saying at the four second mark in the half that the clock should have been running when it was stopped and also argued that the officials weren’t in position when the extra point kick was made.
At the beginning of the second half, the Indians cut the Eagles’ lead to 12-9 when the ball sailed over the head of punter Brian Lawson and rolled into the end zone for a safety with 5:52 left in the third.
The momentum didn’t stay in the corner of the Indians for long. With 3:05 left in the third, Moore struck again as he slipped through a whole in the middle of the defensive line and was able to jet down the field on an 80-yard TD run. Tucker kicked the PAT to make the score 19-9 in favor of the Eagles.
West Bolivar’s defense also played better as the night progressed. Tucker recovered a fumble, which gave West Bolivar the ball back again. The Eagles moved the ball down the field again. With 10:47 left in the fourth quarter, Kylan marched on a 2-yard TD run. The PAT was no good, but the Eagles led 25-9.
For Ackerman, Brasher, as well as Jamarcus Bradley had a tough time at quarterback as the Eagles’ defense kept putting pressure on them. Keenan Neal recorded a sack in the first half, while Tucker, William Lloyd and Kebeon Clinton each recorded sacks in the second half.
With 9:51 left in the game, the Eagles’ defense produced a touchdown as Dalvin Williams recovered a fumble and marched on a long return to the end zone. The 2-point conversion pass was no good, but the Eagles inflated their lead to 31-9.
The Eagles put up one final score with 6:28 left in the game as Kylan completed a 5-yard touchdown pass to Rashan Conway. The 2-point conversion try was no good, but the Eagles were up 37-9.
The Indians scored their final points of the game with 4:14 left on the clock as Brasher completed a touchdown pass to Bradley, but it was too little, too late.
Coach Johnson said the players did a good job of keeping their cool and staying focused through out the whole game.
“Our kids played lights out,” Johnson said. “If we play like this here, we’re going to go back to Jackson. I’m proud of them and that’s what it’s going to take. That’s the heart and the focus and the discipline. We’ve got two more to knock down before we get to Jackson, but I think we can get there.”
Kylan and Pendleton were solid as usual for the Eagles as Kylan completed 4-of-7 passes for 119 yards with two touchdowns, while Pendleton caught three passes for 114 yards with a TD. Johnson also rushed for 51 yards with a touchdown.
In the ground game for West Bolivar, Trevoris Hampton marched on some strong runs for the Eagles as he ran for 67 yards on 15 carries, while Leanardo Brown had a huge 57-yard run.
On defense for the Eagles, Lloyd led the team with 13 tackles, followed by Kawonski Williams with 11 tackles and an interception, Markel Green with 10 tackles, Tucker with eight tackles, a fumble recovery and an interception, Justin Mond with seven tackles and Dalvin Williams with five tackles and an interception.
The Eagles will be back in action for the third round on Friday as they travel to Bruce to play the Bruce Trojans. The Trojans defeated East Webster 35-7 in the second round.