CAMILLA -- Traveling to Camilla to face Mitchell County didn’t exactly seem like a trap game for Coach Daniel McFather and the Randolph-Clay Red Devils. To be fair, that’s the thing about trap games. You never really see them coming. Unfortunately for the Red Devils, you can’t see attrition coming either.
The visiting Red Devils boasted their Dynamite Dozen duo of Cornelius Bennett and Don Bolden, which for the most part, performed as advertised while healthy, but senior quarterback Bruce Bryant and the Eagle defense obviously had something to prove.
Thanks to explosive plays by Bryant and a second-half shutout, Mitchell County moved to 2-0 in Region 1-A, knocking off Randolph-Clay 44-20.
“They gave 110 percent tonight,” Bryant said Friday night. “Out of all the games so far, this is the best the line’s blocked all year. They had my back.”
The second half of the game was so lopsided, it was no surprise they had a little extra motivation.
“I told them if they blocked for me, I’d take them out to eat,” the senior quarterback said. “I guess they wanted that meal.”
“We’ve been playing like that all year,” Eagles coach Larry Cornelius said. “We’re better in the second half, and I’m upset with that. We have to come out more intense defensively. We gave up three touchdowns in the first half, and we’re better than that.”
Bolden and Bennett combined for 117 yards in the first half, before Bennett left the game with an undisclosed injury. Bolden put the first points on the board with a touchdown in the first quarter, but an inspired Eagles squad was bent on keeping things close. They struck back with a five-yard pass from Bruce Bryant to Terry Emmanuel, and added a two-point conversion to take the lead midway through the first.
“We lost our slashing runner, Cornelius Bennett,” McFather said afterwards, “so that took us away from our gameplan some. Don Bolden, our fullback/linebacker was banged up too. We started out missing three starters. We came out really good, but losing the others made it hard to play. We just didn’t have that spark. Hopefully somebody steps up (next week) against Miller.”
The Devils marched their way inside the red zone thanks to a slashing 52-yard run by Bolden, who capped the drive with a four-yard touchdown run with 4:17 left in the first. The Devils converted a two-point conversion, taking a 14-8 lead.
However, the Eagles wouldn’t be silenced. Bryant took a snap on the next possession, saw no men open downfield, and took off, leaving defenders in his wake on his way to a 48-yard touchdown run that tied the game at 14 apiece. After Artie Lee scored on a goal-line plunge on the following drive, it looked like the Devils would eventually wear the Eagles out. To the home crowd’s delight, it was just gut-check time for the Eagle defense.
“Offensively, we’re moving the ball," Cornelius said. "We shot ourselves in the foot a few times in the first half, but we go high-paced and get a lot of plays off. You can see as the game goes on, the other team gets worn out. If we can move faster, we’ll be in great shape.”
After they stonewalled the Devils’ two-headed rushing attack to start the second half, Bryant found Josh King from five yards out to tie the game once again, however this time, the Devils wouldn’t punch back. King’s score was the first of four unanswered second-half scores for the Eagles: Tramel Emmanuel provided the go-ahead score with a five-yard touchdown run, then Bryant got loose again for a 20-yard scramble to give the Eagles a 32-20 lead with just under a minute left in the third. From that point on, it was all over but the shouting.
Bryant finished with 112 yards and two touchdowns on the ground to go along with 58 yards and two touchdowns through the air.
“I loved Bruce’s effort (Friday) night,” Cornelius said. “In the past, he’d get his yards and run out of bounds. (Friday) night he was cutting it back and trying to run guys over. He and Anthony Williams, we want these guys to run the ball downhill. We’ve had a lot of speed over the years, but we want to teach these guys power too.”
Josh King finished with four catches for 44 yards, a touchdown, and a fumble recovery. Anthony Williams added 105 yards and two touchdowns on five carries and a tackle for loss.
Don Bolden led the Red Devils with 95 yards rushing in a losing effort.
The Eagles host Terrell County next week, while the Red Devils, who fell to 1-1 in the region, will hit the road to face Miller County.