East Memorial surge downs WAP 28-6

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 12, 2005

Closer. But not close enough yet.

West Alabama Preparatory once again put forth a game effort, but despite scoring their first points of the season the Titans once again found themselves on the losing end of scoreboard, falling 28-6 at home to the East Memorial Christian Wildcats. The win is the first in school history for East Memorial, which first opened its doors in Prattville in 2004.

The Titans found themselves in another early hole after an emphatic opening drive by the Wildcats. Taking over at their own 48, East Memorial pounded away with Michael Hall and Matt Gould methodically gaining ground in 3 and 4-yard chunks up the middle. Quarterback Michael Lovejoy converted a fourth and inches at the Titan 37 and again at the Titan 2, setting up Hall for a 1-yard score and a 7-0 Wildcat lead. The 52-yard, 16-play drive — all of it on the ground–took 6 minutes and 32 seconds off the first-quarter clock.

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The turnovers bug that has plagued WAP throughout its first three games struck again on the Wildcat kick-off. Up-man Parker Pruitt recovered the kickoff, was tackled, and fumbled, giving East Memorial the ball on the Titans 18. Gould carried to the WAP 2 and despite first a second-down Greg Yelverton sack that pushed the ball back to the 6, Gould plunged in from the 1 on fourth down. A strong push by WAP lineman Len Pope helped deflect the extra point, but the Wildcats were up 13 before the Titans had taken their first offensive snap.

Yelverton gained five on that first snap, helped by a big Gene Samuels block, but East Memorial held and the Titans punted. The Wildcats began to drive again but a big tackle for loss on third down by Stephen Cocreham forced a fourth-and-long which EMCA could not convert. The Titans would hold again on the Wildcats’ next possession, forcing a 33-yard field goal try which fell short. The quarter would end with East Memorial up 13-0.

Mark Geiger opened up the Titans’ next drive with an 11-yard strike to Samuels, but the Titans were held again and a short punt gave EMCA short field to work with. But a holding penalty negated another wildcat score and big sticks by Samuels and Yelverton gave WAP some momentum going into halftime.

Yelverton opened the second half with strong running to move the ball from the WAP 38 to the EMCA 47, but one of eight WAP penalties helped kill the drive. On the Titans next possession a bad snap led to a Wildcat fumble recovery on the Titan 28. This time EMCA made the Titans pay, Hall carryin to the 1 before Gould punched in for a 20-0 lead at the end of three.

The Titans refused to quit, however. A strong Samuels kickoff return and a 15-yard Wildcat penalty gave WAP good field position. It looked wasted after incompletions and penalties left WAP staring at 4th-and15 from the EMCA 40, but Samuels adjusted to a flighted Geiger pass down the left sideline, made the catch, cut inside and broke free for a sudden 40-yard TD that cut the EMCA lead to 20-6. The Titans’ first score of 2005 so delighted head coach Marshall Murphy that he joined the players in the end zone for the celebration.

The energized Samuels then made a huge tackle for loss to help force a Wildcat punt, and followed that with his second straight long completion, breaking several tackles on a 30-yard screen pass to the EMCA 41.

But the Titans could move no closer, and with less than 2 minutes remaining Gould broke loose on 4th-and-3 from the Titan 34 to seal the ballgame at 28-6.

Samuels was the star of the night for the Titans, finishing with 5 receptions for 106 yards and several big tackles from his outside linebacker position.