EUFAULA – Eufaula coach Larry Newton, Jr. reminded his team that they have to be ready to face every challenge that came at them. Friday night his team faced those challenges but couldn’t overcome them.
Eufaula’s Nick Jones rushed for 97 yards and threw for 127 yards but it wasn’t enough to overcome mistakes and a stellar second half defensive performance as Lindsay defeated the ninth-ranked Ironheads, 15-14, in the second round of the Class 2A playoffs at Paul Bell Stadium.
Eufaula finishes its season at 10-2. Lindsay (10-2) will travel to Beggs next week.
“It just seemed like nothing would go our way,” Newton said. “We broke down on a couple of plays and that was the difference. But I’m proud of the way our kids fought hard.”
The Ironheads couldn’t have asked for a better start as they drove 60 yards on their opening possession and took a 7-0 lead on a one-handed catch in the end zone by Khelil Deere on a pass from Jones.
The Ironhead defense forced a punt on Lindsay’s first possession. But it was at that point that the challenges of playing without their leading rusher and a sloppy field began to take its toll.
A high snap on a punt forced Jacob Fitzer to step out of the back of the end zone for a Lindsay safety. Then on the first play of the second quarter another bad snap on fourth and 1 cause Eufaula to turn the ball over on downs at the Leopard 13.
A fumble near midfield gave Lindsay its first turnover and the field position it needed for its first score. Stephen Singleton scored on a 38-yard run on fourth and three to give the Leopards a 9-7 lead.
The Ironheads answered with a big play of their own when Jones outran the Leopard defense 57 yards to give Eufaula a 14-9 lead with 7:00 remaining.
Lindsay drove inside the Ironhead 20 on its next possession before the Eufaula defense stopped the Leopards on downs. Eufaula then drove to midfield but was forced to punt with less than a minute before halftime.
The result was a partially blocked punt that gave Lindsay the ball at its own 46. On the next play, Singleton caught a pass from Logan Ledbetter and raced 54 yards to make it 15-14.
Field position became a critical key in the second half. Eufaula was only able to move inside Lindsay territory twice. Once came after Jones intercepted a pass and returned it to the Leopard 21. Eufaula was unable to take advantage of the turnover as Lindsay blocked a 40-yard field goal attempt and returned it to the Ironhead 13.
“Field position killed us,” Newton said. “Seems like we spent most of the second half on our end of the field. It really hurts when you lose a 1,400-yard rusher.”
The Ironheads’ final two drives started at their own 3 following a Deere fumble recovery and their own 5.
LINDSAY 15, EUFAULA 14
Score by quarters
Lindsay 2 13 0 0 – 15
Eufaula 7 7 0 0 – 14
EUF – Khelil Deere 14 pass from Nick Jones (Eli Youngblood kick) 8:48
LIN – Safety, punter stepped out of end zone 5:06
LIN – Stephen Singleton 38 run (Seth Perry kick) 8:41
EUF – Jones 57 run (Youngblood kick) 7:00
LIN – Singleton 54 pass from Logan Ledbetter (kick fail) 0:34
First downs 9 12
Rushes-yards 32-175 34-137
Passing yards 132 168
Passes 7-11-1 11-28-0
Punts-average 5-27 5-23
Fumbles-lost 2-2 2-1
Penalties-yards 14-96 8-56
RUSHING – Lindsay, Stephen Singleton 12-109 TD; Eufaula, Nick Jones 18-97 TD.
PASSING – Lindsay, Logan Ledbetter 2-2-0 68 TD; Eufaula, Jones 9-21-0 127 TD.
RECEIVING - Lindsay, Singleton 1-54; Eufaula, Khelil Deere 7-103 TD.