By LEE ADAMS
EUPORA – The Eupora Eagles earned the No. 3 seed in the playoffs and defeated their county rival in the process.
With their 35-0 victory over the East Webster Wolverines, the Eagles finished the regular season with records of 6-4 overall and 3-2 in Class 2A, Region 2.
Eupora's defense shut down the Wolverines on the opening drive and found the end zone on the ensuing drive. Lazerick Davis, who has been handling a lot of the running back duties for the Eagles since Vandy Smith's season was ended by a knee injury, ran hard and fast from the time he hit the field, and during the first drive he broke a 2-yard run that ended in the end zone. Davis' touchdown gave the Eagles the early lead, but their defense would be the one to extend it.
"I thought that we set the tone," said Eupora coach Junior Graham. "Our defense came out and played solid right off the first series and then we were able to drive the ball down which I think set the tone for the ball game."
Five minutes after Davis barreled into the end zone, Devin Simmons intercepted East Webster quarterback Codie McKee's pass and returned it 69 yards for the score.
"That's the first defensive score we've had all year," said Graham. "He came up with a big play and he really had a good night."
After Savon Daughtery ran in for the 2-point conversion, the Eagles' lead to 14-0 with 3:43 left in the first quarter.
Eupora's offense didn't find the end zone agin in the first quarter, but it didn't take them long to strike in the second quarter.
On quarterback Trey Pittman's second pass attempt of the game, he connected with Travis Robinson for a 24-yard touchdown to extend the Eagles lead to 22-0.
The Eagles held their lead at the break, but found a way to extend it again in the third. While faced with a fourth down and 7, Pittman hit Simmons for a 41-yard touchdown.
To cap off the scoring, Lamonta Sally ran in the end zone from 2 yards out following a huge interception and return by Derrick Jones.
The Eagles held the Wolverines to a total offense around the century mark and only allowed eight first downs, several of which came on Eagle penalties. Eupora's defense finished the night with two interceptions and forced several fumbles, while holding East Webster scoreless.
"Our kids played physical tonight," said Graham. "East Webster got after us, but our secondary was as physical tonight as we've been in a long time and they made them miss some passes."
McKee seemed to be getting hit on every play by the rushing Eagle defense, but their secondary held him to only four completions out of 15 attempts. In those four competitions, the Wolverines were only able to pick up 12 yards.
Eupora's Davis, who scored the first touchdown of the night, finished the night with 103 yards on 16 carries.
"He ran the ball with passion tonight," said Graham. "He moved the chains, and ran over a couple of guys without his helmet on, he ran inspired and protected the football."
Davis' run without his helmet came in the second half where he drug a couple of East Webster players for a few yards before going down.
"When I run the ball everything in my head is telling me to get mad and keep going," said Davis. "All I think when I'm running is keep going and get to the end zone."
Simmons helped set the tone for the game with his pick six and touchdown reception and he felt like he had something to prove coming into the game.
"I wanted to prove to my coaches that I could step up and make big plays when we needed them," said Simmons. "I played like the coaches have taught me, with my heart and doing what I can to help lead this team."
Eupora isn't sure of who or where they will play for the first round of playoffs, but they know it will be on the road and that doesn't seem to bother Graham.
"To win it all, you're going to have to do it on the road," said Graham. "You don't win state championships at home, so we're going to prepare our guys like it's a normal road game. We know we are going to play a really good opponent, whoever it is, but we are not going to anything different to prepare."
The Eagle's are excited about starting playoffs next week, but they know this coming week will require a lot of work.
"We are going to be ready," said Simmons. "The coaches know what to do and I know practice is going to be hard."
East Webster, which fell to 5-6 overall and 2-3 in the region, will be traveling for playoff competition as well just as the No. 4 seed instead of the No. 3.