Highway 9 Bowl taken by Eagles

The Eupora Eagles celebrate winning the Highway 9 Bowl over Choctaw County Friday night.

Staff Writer

It was difficult for the Eagles of Eupora to find any offense in the first half and their rivals from up the road at Choctaw County looked destined to take control of the football game.

That was until Edwin Herard happened.

The Eupora quarterback helped fire up the Eagle offense and turn a 6-0 halftime deficit into a win after four quarters. Herard threw two touchdowns in the second half and led Eupora to its second-straight victory in the Highway 9 Bowl in a 13-6 nail biter.

Herard finished with 15 carries for 97 yards for the Eagles, but it was his arm that opened things up. After starting the game 1-for-5, he finished hitting nine of his final 10 passes and had 137 yards with the two scores and an interception. He also played his first round of defense at linebacker this season and had a big day making hits on the other side of the ball.

It led to some exhaustion late in the game where Herard even got sick in between plays, but it didn’t stop him from doing his thing.  

“He’s just a football player,” Eupora head coach Stephen Edwards said. “You put him at guard, center, quarterback or wherever, he’s going to put us in position to win. He’s just a kid that loves this game and we’ve got a lot of kids like that.”

Neither team could catch its footing on the offensive side of the football, but the Chargers held the field position advantage. The Eagles found themselves routinely stuck deep in its own territory and Choctaw County challenged on back-to-back possessions in the second quarter.

The first of those possessions saw a golden opportunity slip away when quarterback Tylan Carter fumbled the ball at the goal line and it was recovered by Eupora in the end zone. It would prove to be a key moment in the game.

“(The fumble) was huge, but we can’t dwell on that," Chargers coach Ben Ashley said. "We still had a lot of opportunities."

Choctaw County finished off the deal on the next drive and took a 6-0 lead in the locker room after the 2-yard run from Laterrion Mcbride.

“(Offensive coordinator Adam Dillinger) made some adjustments at halftime and I’m so proud of our coaching staff,” Edwards said. “We’ve got heart and I told them, win or lose, if you play hard for four quarters, good things will happen. That’s what we did.”

After struggling through most of the first half to get first downs, the Eagles began to find rhythm behind Herard. The quarterback used his legs and his arms to move the football and would hit Camron Culpepper on a 26-yard slant to take the 7-6 lead going into the final quarter.

After the Chargers missed a field goal on their next drive, Herard took over. The senior quarterback pushed the team down the field with his arms and legs again. Facing a 4th and 9 from the 11-yard-line, Herard threw a perfect pass in between defenders to Jalan Potts for the score to make it 13-6 after the extra points was missed with 3:47 left.

Potts continued his big finish when he picked off Carter on the next possession and clinched the game.

Both teams pride itself on defense and both made it tough for either to run the football. While each offense ran the ball 31 times, Eupora won up front allowing 89 yards on the ground. The Eagles ran for 119 and the difference in the game was Herard’s 137 passing yards and two scores.

Eupora (4-1) finishes out non-conference play next week with a tough road trip to Charleston. The Chargers (3-2) sit in the exact same spot as a year ago when they lost to Eupora and won seven-straight games.

Ashley is hoping that history repeats itself beginning with a game against Ray Brooks next week.

“This right here will tell the tale of our season," Ashley said. "The great thing about it is that the season is not over. We’ve got six games left and five of them are division. We didn’t do a very good job preparing this week and I’ll put that 100 percent on me. Eupora wanted it a whole lot more than us.”