September 5, 2009 11:05:00 PM
PHEBA -- The homestanding Hebron Christian Eagles picked up their first win of the season Friday night with a 35-30 victory against the West Memphis Black Knights.
It did not take the Eagles long to find the scoreboard, going 47 yards on eight plays on their opening drive.
After a 25-yard scamper by sophomore tailback Marques Johnson (12 rushed, 79 yards), senior quarterback Yance Falkner connected with junior wideout Jae Shaw on a play-action pass for a 3-yard score on a fourth-and-2.
A failed two-point conversion put the Eagles up 6-0.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Black Knights'' Drake Holt fumbled the return and Shaw recovered for the Eagles on the West Memphis'' 13.
Hebron Christian capitalized on the turnover thanks to a 13-yard run off a reverse by Shaw, who rushed twice for 19 yards and a score and caught two passes for 21 yards and a touchdown.
The two-point conversion gave the Eagles took a 13-0 lead with 4 minutes, 22 seconds to go in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, West Memphis pushed the ball 52 yards down the field and picked up four first downs before Hebron Christian senior linebacker Hearne Foster sacked quarterback Jacob Chong for a 13-yard loss that forced a fourth-and-long situation.
On the last play of the half, Hebron Christian senior athlete J.D. Edwards dropped back for a hail mary attempt, but in an attempt to dodge a would-be-tackler, fumbled and Holt recovered and scampered almost 40 yards before he was tripped from behind by senior offensive lineman Mark Vaughn to save what would''ve been a touchdown.
The Eagles extended their lead in the third quarter on their opening drive of the half. The running of senior Ryan Pinnix and Edwards and a clutch fourth-down completion by Falkner to Shaw helped set up a 3-yard sweep for a touchdown by Johnson.
Hebron Christian led 19-0 after the failed two-point conversion.
"We were doing a good job of obeying our assignments and sticking with the game plan," Hebron Christian coach Greg Watkins said. "That helped us get the early lead."
On the ensuing drive, West Memphis found its focus as Chong (game-high 192 yards on 10 carries, two scores) ran a quarterback sneak, broke a tackle up the middle, and was raced for a 54-yard touchdown.
Following a Hebron Christian punt, Chong took the first play from scrimmage 62 yards before the Eagles'' Edwards saved the touchdown and pushed Chong out of bounds at the Eagles'' 5.
Three plays later, West Memphis found the end zone when Chong tossed an 8-yard pass to Spencer Scarbrough at the corner pylon that put West Memphis within a field goal''s reach of the Eagles.
In the fourth quarter, another Black Knight turnover, recovered by Foster, led to an Eagle touchdown when Pinnix (team-high 97 yards, game-high 18 carries) punched it in from 3 yards. The two-point conversion gave Hebron Christian a nine-point lead with 9:51 left in the game.
"Run hard and if there is not a hole you make a hole, that is our motto," Pinnix said. "That is how we are coached, and we showed that tonight. Every game we give 100 percent, and thankfully it paid off for us tonight."
On the first play following the Hebron Christian touchdown, West Memphis'' Holt (14 carries, 119 yards) went up the middle for 83 yards and a score. The two-point conversion made it 27-24.
Pinnix then fumbled on the Eagles'' 42 and West Memphis recovered. Chong faked the option and sprinted 32 yards for a score to give the Black Knights their first lead, 30-27.
"We were finally able to settle down," West Memphis coach T.J. Pugh said. "After we gained our focus and calmed down, I knew we were going to climb back in the ballgame."
With time winding down, the Eagles had one last chance on a broken play with four seconds left. Falkner followed the lead blocking of Johnson into the end zone to put Hebron on top for good, 35-30.
"The play was meant for Marques (Robinson) and Yance (Falkner) missed the handoff," Watkins said. "Fortunately, he was able to recover and follow Marques into the end zone."
Hebron Christian had a 12-5 edge in first downs, and also went 3-for-3 on fourth-down conversions.
The Eagles also committed only one penalty for 10 yards, while West Memphis was whistled for five for 50 yards.
Hebron Christian will turn its focus to Benton Academy on Friday.
1. Hill wants to be in mix at RB for MSU COLLEGE SPORTS
3. Starkville All-Stars roll to another state title LOCAL SPORTS
4. West Lowndes' Rieves signs with Mississippi Valley State COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Luke charged with keeping Rebels together COLLEGE SPORTS