Eupora wins over Leflore County in a shootout

Eupora's 2017 football seniors
Staff Writer

For a quarter, the Eupora Eagles were well on their way to an impressive blowout win over Leflore County.

The Eagles got that win when it was all said and done, but they had to fight for it. An early 32-6 lead was squandered away before Eupora settled in during the fourth quarter and picked up a big Region 2 victory 46-40.

“I’m just thrilled to death,” Eagle head coach Stephen Edwards said. “I knew that they had the athletes and a quarterback that was accurate. They’re going to score some points. You’ve just got to hang on. (Leflore) isn’t done winning.”

Eupora put on a light show with its passing offense on Thursday night. Tanner Knight threw for 403 yards on 14-of-18 with four passing touchdowns and another rushing score. His favorite target, Al Dumas, also had a huge night with seven catches for 211 yards and two scores.

It was something that Knight, his coaches and teammates saw on film that led to the big evening.

“We saw that they were a one-high safety and we’ve been playing a lot of two-high safeties the last few weeks,” Knight said. “We picked on the side that he didn’t go to.”

Leflore County (6-2, 1-1) got an early lead when it marched down the field on the opening drive and scored a 2-yard touchdown for a 6-0 advantage. Eupora took control after that.

Tanner Knight quickly got the Eagles into the end zone when he hit Zack Cooper for a 7-yard pass and followed that up on the next possession with a nifty 8-yard run. A safety on the first play of the next drive caused by Ash Dumas made it 17-6 after a quarter of play.

Knight and the offense continued to step on the gas pedal and he found Al Dumas for 37-yard touchdown passes on consecutive drives and suddenly Eupora was up 32-6. The Eagles did falter the rest of the quarter starting with Preston Perkins’ fumble at the 2-yard-line heading into the end zone. Knight threw a pick six and the Eagles missed a chance at more points at the last second of the half on a 14-yard pass that went off of Al Dumas’ hands and it was 32-14 at the break.

Knight came out strong in the third quarter. Despite taking two sacks, the senior quarterback went 3-for-3 passing on the drive with three big pass plays, the third of which was a 27-yard touchdown to Cooper to make it 39-14.

Eupora kept Leflore County in the game allowing a 60-yard touchdown drive to cut it to 39-20 and an onside kick kept some momentum in the Tigers’ favor. They marched it back inside the 10-yard-line and scored from 2 yards out to get it to 39-26 heading into the fourth quarter.

Leflore County wasted no time getting back into the end zone as it scored on a 6-yard run to get the game within single digits at 39-32 early in the fourth.

Knight and the Eagles’ offense finally got back in the end zone. Knight made a couple of big pass plays to put them inside the 5-yard-line and that’s where Preston Perkins scored to make it 46-32 with over 7 minutes left. Leflore County gave itself a chance with another score and got a two-point conversion to cut it to six, but the Eagles took a big chance to seal it. On third and long with over 1 minute left, Knight hit Jalan Potts for a 40-yard catch to the 3-yard-line and that won it for the Eagles.

“We knew that Jalan matched up well with the safety and I threw him a good jump ball and he went and got it,” Knight said.

The Eagles (6-2, 1-1) looked much more like the team that they have been most of the season to their coach on Thursday. It was a welcomed sight after a frustrating Friday night last week at Winona.

Now they’ve set themselves up to still compete for the Region 2 crown if all things fall correctly the next two weeks. Eupora has a much-needed off week that Edwards is welcoming before the team goes to Calhoun City in two weeks for the final game of the regular season in what could be for the division championship.

For now, Edwards is going to be happy to get back to .500 in league play.

“We knew in practice and even in pre game that we had a lot more focus and we had energy," Edwards said. "Last week it seemed like we were dragging. We’re going to enjoy the win and take Friday and Monday off. It’s been a dog fight for us every week. We have no easy teams on our schedule.”