On a night when Webster County’s football team used clock management to great success, explosive plays from visiting Eminence made the difference in a 68-30 loss that was much closer through the first three quarters.
The Trojans trailed by just 10 points early in the final quarter, 40-30, when a series of short kickoffs and big plays gave the visiting Warriors a big final 11 minutes.
Webster ran its best play of the season early in the third when the EHS defense bought a fake run by Jackson Edens, tackling the freshman running back in the backfield. But the ball ended up in the hands of junior Aden Young, who sneaked down the sideline for a 37-yard touchdown with 11:02 left in the game.
Young took the hand-off on the 2-point conversion attempt and completed a pass to freshman Josiah Mills to cut the Eminence advantage to 40-30.
The Trojans followed the score with a squib kick that pinned EHS at their own 21-yard line. Warriors quarterback Blaze Berry completed a 29-yard pass to Adriene Bailey, and a 27-yard pass to Adonis Whitney, before hitting Bailey for a 17-yard score with 9:20 on the clock. Berry and bailey connected on the 2-point conversion to put Eminence up 48-30.
Eminence followed the score with an onside kick recovered by senior Noah Duncan at the EHS 47 yard line. But on a 2nd-and-6 play on the Eminence 33 yard line, a bad pitch resulted in a nine yard loss from which the Trojans were unable to recover.
On the first play of the next EHS possession, Berry found Bailey behind the Trojans’ defense and the Warriors scored from 69 yards out. The point after left Eminence with a 55-30 advantage with 6:18 remaining in the contest.
EHS added to the lead after a WCHS fumble at its own 35 game the Warriors a short field. A 32-yard reception by Bailey set Whitney up for a three-yard scramble with 3:15 on the clock. The PAT stretched the margin to 62-30.
A flubbed reception on the ensuing kickoff was recovered by Eminence at the WCHS 28 yard line, and on the next play, Saunders scored with 2:38 left to put the Warriors ahead, 68-30.
After a 67-yard pass play from Berry to Saunders put the Warriors up 8-0 with 2:08 left in the first quarter, junior QB Gavin Walker completed a 36-yard pass to Duncan and Young scored from four yards out to get the Trojans on the board. Young converted the 2-point try to tie the game with 11:53 showing in the second quarter.
With 3:06 left in the half, Eminence regained the lead, 16-8, with an 18-yard Saunders reception and a 2-point conversion by Bailey.
The Trojans came back to tie the game at 16-16 after Edens gave his team good field position on a 39-yard kickoff return that placed the ball at the EHS 38 yard line. The Trojans ran the Wildcat offense with Young on the ensuing possession, and the junior scored for the second time from 15 yards out with 1:15 left in the second quarter. He added the 2-point conversion to tie the game at the half.
The stalemate was short lived, though, as Eminence got 60 yards on a pair of runs from Saunders, then a 10-yard touchdown scamper from Bailey to put the Warriors back in front 24-16 at the 11:02 mark in the third.
EHS tried another onside kick after the score, but junior Timothy Maddox Catlin recovered the ball at the Webster 41 yard line. The Trojans put together a 10-play drive capped by a three-yard scoring run by Young with 6:25 left in the third frame.
The Warriors answered with a one-play possession that saw Saunders find the end zone after a 70-yard rush, giving the visitors a 32-22 advantage with 5:58 left in the third. Eminence kicked yet another onside kick after the score, recovering at the Webster 41 yard line. Saunders ran three times on the possession, and scored on a 20-yard run with 4:02 left in the third, giving his team a 40-22 advantage.
Young turned in the best offensive performance of the season for the Trojans, rushing 18 times for 102 yards and all four WCHS touchdowns.
Duncan ran the ball for 63 yards on 15 attempts, while Edens added 37 yards on four runs. Senior Brett Love ran 11 times for 38 yards.
Walker went 2-for-5 for 36 yards passing. Duncan caught both passes for 36 yards receiving.
Defensively, Catlin tallied three pass deflections for Webster, two of which would likely have resulted in touchdowns for Eminence had they been completed. He also intercepted a pass in the end zone to prevent another score by the Warriors.
Saunders rushed 12 times for 254 yards and four touchdowns for the Warriors.
Berry was 15-of-22 for 251 yards and four touchdowns with one interception. Bailey was the favored target, catching six passes for 134 yards and two scores.
The Trojans have an open date Friday, and are scheduled to travel to Union County Oct. 1 for a district showdown with the Braves. UCHS will face Crittenden County this Friday, but are coming off an upset loss at the hands of Caldwell County, who won the match-up, 24-14, in Princeton.