In a region game, the Eagles won easily over Cherokee County 40-14 in a game that was supposed to have been tight.
The win sets up a major contest this Friday night against two undefeated teams, Jacksonville and Munford. Munford is coming off a 14-7 win over powerhouse Cleburne County. The Eagles will travel to Munford for the important Regional matchup.
Cherokee County (1-2, 1-1) came into the game on the heels of a 29-23 victory over Alexandria. With an obvious weight advantage on the line, the Warriors looked to control the running game of the Eagles, particularly quarterback Jackson Bell and running back Dominique Thomas. They didn’t do it.
Dominique Thomas scored three touchdowns for the Eagles on runs of two yards, six yards and a 56-yard run to end his scoring. The talented back carried the ball 18 times for 120 yards.
Bell once again was impressive with one touchdown run of 37 yards. Bell ran the ball 11 times for 74 yards but he didn’t stop there.
Bell showed that the Jacksonville offense is multi-dimensional as he hit Payton Sims on the first touchdown of the game, a 22-yard strike to Sims racing down the left sidelines.
Later Bell hit Sid Thurmond on a pass to the flat that that covered 32-yards and gave the Eagles a 21-0 lead at halftime.
Bell finished 5-of-9 passing for 63 yards and two touchdowns. Thurmond had three of those receptions for 36 yards and a touchdown.
Sandwiched between the two passing touchdowns in the first half was a two- yard run by Thomas to give the Eagles a 14-0 lead.
The Eagle defense was very much in the game, causing three major turnovers. The two-yard touchdown run by Thomas was set up by a fumble recovery by J.J. Johnson that took the ball to the Warrior 24.
Early in the game Jacksonville’s Elijah Cunningham picked off his second pass of the year. Cunningham later returned a punt to the Warrior 37 yard-line setting up the first touchdown pass of the game to Sims.
The final touchdown of the first half was also set up by a turnover when Thurmond intercepted on the Eagle 17-yard line. Jacksonville marched down the field capped off by Thurmond’s touchdown reception.
The Warriors came out of the locker room in the second half eager to play up to their pre-game hype. Starting on their own 45-yard line the Warriors marched down the field largely on the running of senior Ty Green who capped off the drive with a 16-yard run into the end zone. With the extra point the Warriors had cut the lead to 21-7.
After holding the Eagles on their next set of downs, the Warriors went right back to work. Starting on their own 34-yard line it was Green on three consecutive plays taking the ball to the Eagle 45. A pass from quarterback J.T. Hill to Tanner Johnson was good for five more. Green broke loose on a running play to the 30-yard line but the play was nullified by a 15-yard penalty. A bad snap had the Warriors reeling backwards and they quickly found themselves on their own 29-yard line. On third and 36 a pass play that looked like it might go for big yards was stopped for no gain when the Eagles Thomas leveled the receiver at the line of scrimmage.
Going back to punt, the center once again hiked the ball over the head of the punter and Jacksonville recovered on the six-yard line. It took Thomas only one play to run the ball in for the score with 4:32 remaining in the third quarter.
The Eagles recovered a fumble on the 50-yard line on the ensuing kick. Thomas took the ball to the 37 then it was Bell taking the ball in for the touchdown and in less than a minute the Eagles had scored again and were up to a 33-7 lead.
The Eagles scored one more time in the fourth quarter on the 56-yard touchdown run by Thomas. The extra point by Mason Tompkins, who was 4-for 6 in the game, gave the Eagles a 40-7 lead.
With Eagle Head Coach Clint Smith substituting for the rest of the game, the Warriors scored on a 59-yard touchdown pass to end the game.
Smith was complementary to both his players and staff after the game. “Hats off to our kids for the way they played,” said Smith. “We came out ready to play and we were able to sustain that for four quarters.
“We did a good job of establishing ourselves in both halves.
“Hats off to my staff for a great game plan and doing a good job of getting everything ready.
“Our kids went out and executed what we needed them to do.”
The Eagles will need to bring this same type of game into their showdown with Munford on Friday.