By Connor Mullins
The Eagles lost to the Cooper Cougars in an intense crosstown rivalry game 23-14 on Friday, Sept. 13. The Eagles failed on numerous attempts to convert on third down and the Eagles defense missed 16 tackles. Cooper’s defensive line was dominant against the Eagles offensive line giving Abilene quarterbacks Matthew Ezzell and Eric Abbe not enough time to make the right decisions on certain plays.
Senior quarterback Eric Abbe started the game last night, but was pulled out early after several 3-and-outs in the first quarter. Junior quarterback Matthew Ezzell played the rest of the game and finished the night 13-22 for 161 yards with a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown.
“These coaches prepared me well to execute and we did good at times, but we fell short,” Ezzell said. The Eagles play Midland High (1-2) next week at Grande Stadium.
The Cougars got off to a quick start in the first quarter with junior starting quarterback Aidan Thompson throwing a 66-yard touchdown pass. The Eagles offense, under Abbe, struggled to get going with multiple 3-and-outs, and it resulted in a safety making the score 9-0 Cougars at the end of the first quarter.
Cooper continued to roll in the second quarter and a long run by junior running back Noah Garcia on Cooper’s opening drive put them in a great position to score on the Eagles 2-yard line. Thompson then threw a touchdown pass on the next play making the score 16-0 Cougars with under 5 minutes to go in the second quarter.
Ezzell and the Eagles came out and handed the ball off to junior running back Alphonzo Dotson for a touchdown just before halftime, making the score 16-7 Cougars at the half.
The Eagles kicked off to Cooper to start the third quarter, but Thompson and the Cougars were unable to score. Ezzell and the Eagles then came out and went on a clock-consuming drive and threw a touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Damion Enriquez making the score 16-14 Cougars with under 5 minutes to go in the third quarter. Thompson and Ezzell were unable to lead their teams to touchdowns, and at the end of the third quarter, it was 16-14 Cougars.
Both teams made little progress at the start of the fourth quarter. Ezzell and the Eagles failed to convert a 4th-and-1 deep in Cooper’s territory early in the fourth quarter. This led to Thompson and the Cougars scoring with under 4 minutes to go in the game. Ezzell struggled to get the Eagles offense moving and ended the game with Cougars 23, Eagles 14.
However this loss does not define the Eagles season.
“We did good at times tonight, but there were times when we could’ve executed better,” Ezzell said. “We left some points on the board as well, but sometimes that’s just how it is. We’ll get better.”
The Eagles main focus in practice next week will be consistency according to Ezzell. The Eagles punted the ball 4-5 times to start the game and were unable to recover after a slow start.
“All of our plans for this season are still ahead of us,” senior offensive lineman Khalil Spivey said. “We can still get into the playoffs by winning in district and that’s our main concern right now. It stinks to lose to Cooper, but our plans are still ahead of us.”
The Eagles take on the Midland High Bulldogs next week in their final non-district game before kicking off district play against the Richland Rebels.
- The Eagles missed 16 tackles on defense
- Eagles senior WR Damion Enriquez finished the game with 5 catches for 48 yards and a touchdown
- Eagles junior WR Jashari Houston led the Eagles in receiving with 5 catches for 70 yards
- Eagles senior OLB Jorge Hernandez and Eagles Senior OLB Marcus Franklin led the Eagles in tackles with 7 solo and 2 assisted each
- Eagles senior DL Dylan Wright had the only sack on the night
- Eagles senior OLB Jorge Hernandez still leads the Eagles with 23 solo tackles and 11 assisted tackles so far this season
- Eagles junior RB Phonzo Dotson was injured against Cooper and missed the second half on Friday