Early wins 1st game, sends Miller to 0-2 start

Early County's Jacori Taylor helped lead the Bobcats to their first win of the season Friday night, 12-8, against Miller County.

Early County's Jacori Taylor helped lead the Bobcats to their first win of the season Friday night, 12-8, against Miller County.

BLAKELY -- These days in Early County, if you are the quarterback you better be able to run the ball. And if you are on the Bobcats' defense, you better be as tough as nails.

Early County's Jacori Taylor and Ladonis Bryant traded snaps and combined for 148 rushing yards, while the Bobcat defense held Miller County (0-2) to just 34 total yards Friday night.

Taylor's two rushing touchdowns gave Early County (1-1) just enough offense to win, 12-8.

But the story of the night was Early County's defense, which held Miller County quarterback and Dynamite Dozen selection T.T. Barber to 18 yards rushing on 20 carries and 66 passing yards.

Barber's only score was late in the fourth quarter on a 14-yard run.

"The defense played great last week and played great this week," said Early County coach Trey Woolf, whose Bobcats barely lost to Bainbridge, 16-12, in last week's season opener. "They kept us in the ball game (Friday), and I couldn't be prouder of those guys."

Up until the final minutes of the fourth quarter, Early County held the Pirates' offense to negative yardage. Much of that negative yardage was due to mishandled or bad snaps between the center and quarterback.

"We squandered opportunities early," said Miller County coach Frank Killingsworth, whose Pirates are now 0-2 after opening the season with a 34-0 loss against Wilcox County. "We are getting better, and once we overcome those mistakes we will be the football team we think we can be."

Barber, who was 4-for-15 throwing the ball, sat out his team's season opener with a concussion and was admittedly a little rusty in his first start of the season. But to his credit, several of his throws were on target to his receivers, who couldn't seem to hold on to the ball.

"I was off my game a little bit, missing that week," Barber said. "I gotta work harder to get better and make the team better."

Taylor was Early County's starting quarterback, but he didn't have much success throwing the ball either, connecting on just 2-of-9 for 22 yards. Instead, it was Taylor's legs that did most of the heavy lifting Friday night. He rushed for 85 yards on 18 carries, including the game's first touchdown midway through the first quarter when he scrambled all over the field, broke several tackles and raced 21 yards into the end zone.

"I'll do anything to score and get yards for my team," Taylor said. "I'd do anything."

Taylor, who also had a 1-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter, was occasionally given a breather under center by running back/QB Bryant, who ran for 65 yards on 13 carries. His biggest runs of 35 and 17 yards came from the quarterback position.

But then the game got ugly with six minutes left when a broken play turned into a skirmish between the two teams.

The fight amongst several of the players resulted in off setting penalties and two ejections, though both coaches wouldn't comment on who was ejected from the game.

During the play, Miller County's Ty Sheffield hurt his shoulder and was on his back on the field for nearly 10 minutes before eventually being driven away in an ambulance.

After the game, Killingsworth said his captain should be OK and that the early prognosis was a dislocated shoulder.

While medical personnel were tending to Sheffield, the officials were handling the skirmish, which left both coaches disappointed afterwards.

"With these two teams, it's a big rivalry," Killingsworth said. "But you have to play under control and with discipline. You can only be responsible for yourself, not the other person."