Atkins Red Devils quarterback Alex Spradlin had a rocky start last Friday, but once he found his groove he went to work picking apart the Eagles secondary to lead Atkins to a 27–23 victory over Paris.
Neither the Red Devils nor the Eagles could get going on offense in the first quarter as both defenses were taking care of business and denying the offenses from gaining any ground.
Late in the first quarter, Spradlin and the Red Devils took advantage of great field position to start a scoring drive that would give them a 7–0 lead early in the second quarter. Spradlin opened the drive with a nine yard pass play and then the Red Devils mixed it up with running and passing plays to get the ball to the one. Tyler Halferd punched the ball into the end zone for the score and Caleb Paskel tacked on the extra point.
Devin Ellingburg took the ensuing kickoff at the 21 and returned it to the 38- to set up a scoring drive for the Eagles. Keeping the ball in the hands of their running backs, the Eagles needed seven plays to tie the score at 7–7. Ellingburg took the handoff from David Buchanan and in a double handoff, gave the ball to Kaleb Owens who broke free for the 33-yard scoring run. Rondney Lo tacked on the PAT.
With 6:43 to play in the second quarter, the Eagles took control of the ball at the 39-yard line and quickly moved to the end zone to take the lead. Buchanan gained 15 yards on third down to put the Eagles in Red Devil territory. Trenton Moeller took the handoff on the next play and broke through the defense for a 44-yard scoring run with 5:46 to play in the quarter. Lo’s extra point gave the Eagles a 14–7 lead.
Spradlin and company began their next drive of the game at the 23. Back to back pass plays moved the Red Devils to the Eagles 23. Four plays later, Spradlin connected with Cole Duvall for a 13-yard touchdown pass. Paskel’s PAT split the uprights to tie the score at 14–14 with 3:14 to play in the second quarter.
Ellingburg once again had a great run back on the ensuing kickoff and gave the Eagles great field position at the 50. Taking only five plays, the Eagles moved the necessary 50 yards to once again take the lead in the game. Buchanan completed the drive on a one-yard carry into the end zone with 1:21 to play. Lo’s extra point gave the Eagles a 21–14 lead.
Atkins went to the air in an attempt to score before the halftime break and they were moving the ball fairly easily when Spradlin’s long pass was picked off at the two by Owens to stop the drive and give the Eagles the ball with only 17.1 seconds remaining in the first half.
Paris opened the second half with the ball and was moving with ease toward the end zone when Buchanan lost the handle on the ball and the Red Devils recovered the fumble at the three to end the drive.
The Eagles defense held strong and kept the Red Devils inside the 10 and forced a fourth down and long. Spradlin dropped back to punt from deep in the end zone and the center snapped the ball over his head and out of the end zone for a safety. That gave Paris a 23–14 lead with 7:53 to play in the third quarter.
Once again, the defense for both squads stepped up their game and kept either offense from having any success. That is until the seven minute mark in the fourth quarter. Atkins began at their 29 and Spradlin connected with three different receivers to get the ball into the end zone. With 5:30 on the clock, the Red Devils trailed the Eagles by just two points, 23–21.
With 2:38 to play in the game, Spradlin and the Red Devils offense began the most important drive of the game at their 16. Throwing the ball on eight of their 12 plays in the drive, the Red Devils used the clock wisely and Spradlin connected with Duvall for a 15-yard scoring strike to give Atkins a 27–23 lead. The extra point attempt failed.
With only 9.7 seconds remaining in the game, the Eagles had no time to score and were handed their second conference loss of the season.
Paris will try to get back on track this week as they travel to Danville to take on the Little Johns who are winless in conference play. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Danville.