Photo: Etowah High’s Tae Wright (7) tackles Center Point’s Jayson Jones during the Blue Devils’ 42-13 loss in the first round of the Class 5A state football playoffs last Friday (Nov. 8) in Attalla. (Travis Green)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
For the first time in four years, Etowah will not participate in the second round of the Class 5A state playoffs.
The fifth-ranked and Region 7 top seed Blue Devils lost to Region 5 No. 4 seed Center Point, 42-13, last Friday (Nov. 8) at James Glover Field in Attalla.
Etowah fought back from a 20-0 deficit to draw within 26-13 early in the third quarter, but the Eagles (8-3) scored the game’s final 15 points to end the Blue Devils’ season at 9-2.
A stingy Center Point defense gave up 179 total yards, with only 19 allowed over the game’s final 21 minutes. By contrast, the Eagles rolled up 427 yards, 328 via the rush.
Dontae Eatman paced the Center Point ground game with 125 yards on 18 carries. Troy Bruce rushed for 87 yards on nine attempts, while Jaylen Taylor added 75 yards on six handoffs.
After the opening drive of the second half, Etowah gained two first downs the rest of the way – one on a fake punt and the other as a result of a penalty.
“We had some missed opportunities, and [Center Point] didn’t make many mistakes,” said Etowah head coach John Holladay. “We just couldn’t get into a rhythm offensively, because [Center Point] was able to hang on to the ball and make plays. They were a good football team tonight.”
For the Blue Devils, Brady Troup was 7 of 22 in passing for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Ollie Finch had three receptions for 47 yards and a score. Trent Davis was the team’s leading rusher with 36 yards on eight carries.
Etowah found itself in a 20-0 hole just 15 minutes into the contest. Center Point’s first three possessions resulted in touchdowns, the first being a 2-yard run by Rod Orr at 9:48 of the first quarter. Orr ran in the two-point conversion for the 8-0 lead.
Following a three-and-out by the Blue Devils, a 44-yard pass from Davis to Harold Holloman helped set up the Eagles at the Etowah 4, where Taylor took it in for the score. The two-point run failed but Center Point enjoyed a 14-point advantage with five minutes remaining in the opening period.
The Blue Devils’ second series lasted 10 plays before ending with a punt, and the Eagles put together an eight-play, 87-yard series that was capped by Eatmon’s 25-yard TD run up the middle at the 8:54 mark of the second quarter.
Etowah finally responded four minutes later. Troup’s 28-yard pass to Finch and a 33-yard completion to Davion Robinson helped put the ball at the Center Point 10, where on a fourth and goal Troup and Finch hooked up on a touchdown pass that pulled the Blue Devils within 20-6.
But the visitors answered with an 11-play drive that consumed more than five minutes of clock time and ended with Davis’ 12-yard TD pass to Orr with 33.7 seconds left in the first half.
Etowah’s Trent Davis was raring to go after missing the first half, and the junior halfback kicked off the opening possession of the second half with an 18-yard run. Later in the drive, NyNy Davis gained five yards on a fourth down and 3. Two plays later, Trent Davis caught a 24-yard touchdown pass from Troup. Eric Edge pushed through the extra point to narrow the gap to 26-13 at 9:27 of the third quarter.
But Etowah failed to cross midfield for the rest of the game. In the meantime, the Eagles padded their lead with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns – the first a 2-yard run by Jayson Jones at 11:37 and the second a 4-yard rush by Bruce at 5:28.
“I’m really proud of our kids,” said Holladay. “They’ve come a long way. The senior class provided leadership for us and got better all year.”