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War Eagles lose heartbreaker to Laurel, 21-18
By Paul Keane
The Wayne County News
LAUREL — Little things proved to be the difference as Laurel slipped past Wayne County High School, 21-18, Friday night at Blair Field.
The loss drops the War Eagles to 6-3 overall (6-2 on the field) and 4-2 in District 3-5A. Laurel moves to 5-5 and 4-2. WCHS will host West Jones Thursday night in the regular season finale with the playoff spots in the district still to be decided.
Head Coach Jack Hankins said it wasn't a lack of effort that hurt his team Friday night. Instead, it was another "e" word — execution — that proved to be the difference.
"I love the effort from these guys," he said. "We got great effort tonight, and I wouldn't want to coach another group of guys because they give you great effort. We're just not to the point where we're good enough to be able to not execute at a high level. We've got to execute and stay penalty free. We need to do all of those little things better in order to give us an edge.
"I wouldn't trade these guys for anybody, and I love the effort. People said we would get beat by four touchdowns by Laurel since we were starting two sophomores and two juniors on the offensive line. I'm proud of their effort but we've got to keep getting better and working hard. Our guys are getting there, we're just not where we need to be."
Hankins said the short week to prepare for long-time rival West Jones will mean even greater focus and execution.
"We have to pay attention to the details, watch a lot of film, see where we messed up and fix it," he said. "The kids will learn from this, and we will see what we did wrong.
"The playoffs are still in play, so we're going to work hard and get ready for a good football team."
The War Eagles were clicking on all cylinders on the opening drive of the night, marching 65 yards in 10 plays and 5:50 before Choya Evans scored on a 1-yard plunge. That made it 6-0 with 6:10 left in the opening stanza.
Laurel drove down to the WCHS 29-yard line on the ensuing series, but Billy Cooley stripped the ball, recovered the loose ball and returned it 29 yards to the 49-yard line. The offense stalled, though, forcing a punt.
Laurel took that punt and marched 84 ears in nine plays, using a 5-yard run and an extra point to make it 7-6 with 8:19 left in the half.
WCHS answered with another solid drive, marching 66 yards in 12 plays, with Bakari McCall racing around right end for a 10-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion failed, making it 12-7 in favor of the visiting team at the intermission.
The third quarter proved to be a defensive struggle, with the War Eagles holding on a fourth-down play, then Brayden Mills recovering a fumble at the WCHS 19-yard line. The offense was forced to punt on each ensuing drive.
With 8:44 left in the game, the Golden Tornadoes capped off a 53-yard, five-play drive with a 4-yard run to make it 13-12. After the Laurel defense held the War Eagles to a 2-yard gain on fourth-and-3, the home team marched 60 yards in nine plays, using a 2-yard run to punch it in. The two-point conversion made it 21-12 with 2:40 remaining.
The War Eagles answered right back, though, using three Carter Hankins' passes to Eddie Poole to march 45 yards. The final completion was a 13-yard strike where Poole made sure both feet were inbounds as he went into the end zone. The two-point conversion came up short, setting the margin at 21-18 with 1:18 remaining.
The onside kick didn't travel the needed 10 yards, allowing Laurel to run out the clock.
LAUREL 21, WCHS 18
SCORE BY QUARTERS
WCHS 6 6 0 6 — 18
LHS 0 7 0 14 — 21
WCHS — 6:10, Choya Evans 1-yard run. Kick failed.
LHS — 8:19, 5-yard run. Kick good.
WCHS — 2:27, Bakari McCall 10-yard run. Run failed.
LHS — 8:44, 4-yard run. Run failed.
LHS — 2:40, 2-yard run. Run for two points.
WCHS — 1:18, Eddie Poole 13-yard pass from Carter Hankins. Run failed.
FIRST DOWNS: WCHS 13, LHS 23
RUSHES-YARDS: WCHS 36-128, LHS 46-199
PASSES: WCHS 5-8-0, LHS 8-12-0
PASSING YARDS: WCHS 454, LHS 126
FUMBLES-LOST: WCHS 0-0, LHS 3-2
PENALTIES-YARDS: WCHS 16-100, LHS 12-115
PUNTS-AVERAGE: WCHS 32.7, LHS 0-0.0
RETURN YARDS: WCHS 98, LHS 49
THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS: WCHS 3-of-10, LHS 4-of-8
FOURTH DOWN CONVERSIONS: WCHS 2-of-3, LHS 2-of-4
TIME OF POSSESSION: WCHS 22:37, LHS 25:23
Choya Evans 16-55, Joseph Abney 10-33, Cameron McLaurin 5-31, Bakari McCall 1-10, Aikerien Hopkins 1-2, Kelvin Walley 1-(-1), Eddie Poole 2-(-2).
Carter Hankins 5-8-0 45 yards.
Eddie Poole 3-35, Joseph Abney 1-6, Cameron McLaurin 1-4.
Aikerien Hopkins 12, Travante Parker 11, Tavaris Lacey 11, Landon Pitts 6, Chadrickus Davis 5, Bakari McCall 5, Brayden Mills 5, Devin Parker 4, Billy Cooley 4, Alfonso Arrington 3, Javier Parker 2, Tyler Rankins 2, Mykerrius Figgers 2, Payton Hudson 2, Paris Evans 1, Tanner Cochran 1.
Aikerien Hopkins 2.
Aikerien Hopkins 1.
Billy Cooley 1.
Brayden Mills 1, Billy Cooley 1.
PASS BREAK UPS
Mykerrius Figgers 1, Bakari McCall 1.
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