Cougars Suffer Second Half Collapse at EPC
Kyler Gordon stepped up big-time when his team needed him most, rushing for 264 yards and four touchdowns as the EPC Warriors (3-3, 2-1 2A-3) broke open a close game in the second half on their way to a 52-28 win over the Rector Cougars (0-6, 0-3) on Homecoming Night at Warrior Field.
Looking sharp in the early going, the Cougars took the opening kickoff and marched 82 yards to score the first points of this conference match-up. Lawson Ford carried the ball in from a yard out for the Rector score making it 6-0 with 8:34 left. Ford then connected with Bam Westbrook on the two-point conversion pass to make it 8-0 in favor of the Cougars.
EPC answered with a three yard touchdown run from Gordon with 5:52 left, set-up by a Clay Malone to Dee Buchanan pass to the three-yard line. Gordon added the two-point conversion run to make it 8-8.
But, once again Rector answered quickly as Westbrook took ensuing kick-off and raced 87 yards for a Cougars' touchdown to make the score 14-8 Rector. But, this time Ford's two-point pass attempt was incomplete.
As the half went on, EPC turned the ball over on downs on their own 42-yard line only to see Rector return the ball on downs to the Warriors at the Cougars' 48-yard line. EPC drove down the field and it looked as if Malone was going to run for the first down but he stopped and hit Peyton Phillps with a 24 yard pass for an EPC score making it 14-14. Gordon was stopped on the two-point conversion run, and the first quarter ended with the score 14-14.
The Cougars once again struck quickly, as Ford hit Westbrook in stride on the first play of the second quarter for a 54 yard touchdown pass to make it 20-14 Cougars with 11:49 left. Ford's pass to Danny Hager was also good for the two-point conversion to make the score 22-14.
The Warriors then got the ball on their own 35-yard line after the kick-off went out of bounds before driving 65 yards for another touchdown. Malone again hooked up with Phillips on a six-yard TD pass with 8:22 left. Gordon's two-point conversion run tied the score at 22.
On the following drive, the Warriors forced Rector to punt taking possession on their own 22-yard line. EPC used three running plays to get in the end zone. Gordon raced 33 yards on the first play before Malone scampered 32 yards to the Rector 13-yard line. Gordon covered the final 13 yards on the next play to make the score 28-22 EPC. Gordon added the two-point conversion run to make it 30-22. Hunter Brown recovered the onside kick for EPC at midfield. The Warriors turned the ball over on fourth and ten at the Rector 19-yard line. Eric Driver stopped the Rector drive with an interception with five seconds left in the half allowing EPC to take a 30-22 lead into the locker rooms.
The hosts also scored on their opening drive of the second half, converting a fourth-and-one along the way. Gordon capped the drive with a 12-yard touchdown run to make it 36-22 Warriors, but was stopped on the two-point conversion run.
The Cougars were once-again forced to punt on the next series of downs, and Driver made a good return into Cougar territory. The Warriors' ground game continued to roll as Gordon ran 16 yards for this fourth touchdown of the night. Malone passed to Phillips for the two-point conversion to make it 44-22 EPC with 38 seconds left in the third quarter, and the scored stayed the same as the third quarter ended.
But, late in the third the Cougars began to mount another scoring drive. Using a combination of running and passing plays, the boys in blue drove the ball down field, with Colby Stokes scoring on a five yard run with 10:33 left in the game. Michael Jobe sacked Ford on the two-point pass play to leave the score 44-28 EPC.
A short time later, Westbrook recovered an EPC fumble only to see Jobe recover a Cougar fumble moments later. Gordon then broke loose on a 42 yard run to the Rector five-yard on first play following the Rector turnover. At that point, the game got a little ugly as Frank Herrera was whistled for his second personal foul and was ejected from the game. Malone's one yard sneak for a score gave EPC a 50-22 lead. Malone found Buchanan on the two-point-conversion pass play setting the final score at 52-28 EPC.
"We played hard and I don't think they expected that from us," Rector head coach David Hendrix said of his team. "We have to improve on defense as we are allowing too many off-tackle runs. We just have to play better," Hendrix added.
Ford led the Cougars' offense with 123 yards passing and a touchdown to go along with a rushing touchdown. Garrett Buck rushed for 76 yards on the night as Westbrook had 77 yards receiving and a touchdown.
The Cougars will be on the road Friday evening, as they visit the Midland Mustangs. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.