Eupora makes statement with homecoming win

For Starkville Daily News

With an opportunity to make a huge statement on the line, the Eupora Eagles took on the Charleston Tigers, looking to take down their second Class 3A opponent in as many weeks for homecoming.

In a defensive battle for the ages, the Eagles grinded out a victory over Charleston and continued to prove that they are one of the best teams around.

"Our defense was very dominant (Friday night) and I thought that all 11 of them gave everything they had to go after the ball (Friday night)," Eupora coach Stephen Edwards said. "We also ran the ball very well and when you do that good things will happen.

"We look forward to a hard week of practice and another great game next week to open division play at home against East Webster."

In the first quarter, after Eagles quarterback Tanner Knight connected with receiver Cam'ron Culpepper for a 72-yard gain, running back Preston Perkins fumbled into the end zone and Charleston recovered for a touchback.

For the rest of the period, offensive scoring was no where to be found and with both defenses being dominant the game remained scoreless.

In the second quarter, there were fumbles, interceptions and tons of defense but still no one reached the end zone and the game was still deadlocked at zero going into halftime.

In the third quarter, Tanner Knight connected with Al Dumas for a 32-yard gain at the 5-yard line, but the turnover woes continued as the Eagles fumbled away another scoring opportunity. With 2:27 remaining in the period, Charleston drew first blood on a wildcat snap to receiver De'Antre Prince who scored from 5 yards out. The two-point conversion failed and the score remained 6-0.

With 2:04 remaining in the quarter, the Eagles refused to be shut out as Knight aired it out to Cam'ron Culpepper who scored on a 51-yard play. The extra point by Knight was good and Eupora led 7-6. The period ended with the Eagles clinging to a one-point lead.

Running back Ash Dumas broke free in the fourth quarter and scored from 63 yards out, but the extra point was blocked and Eupora led 13-6 with 9:34 left to play. The Eagle defense held on and Eupora escaped with a victory in a hard fought battle of defense.

"We just grinded it out the whole game," Eagle middle linebacker Edwin Herard said.. "Our goal is to always hustle hard and get a three and out and we did that (Friday night).

"As long as we continue to play with passion and play together, there's nothing we can't do."

Eupora hosts East Webster next week in a battle of 5-1 cross county rivals.