Homecoming: Eagles Soar Early, but Wildcats Claw Their Way to Victory

As the friday night lights flicked on in Lin Bauer stadium, things were already starting to get chaotic. It was homecoming for Enloe, their own turf, the fans and the players all had just one thing on their minds: the win. With a determined attitude and a crowd full of energy and homecoming spirit, Enloe was clearly the favorite- so what went wrong for the Eagles?

Even before the game began, the morale of the team had to be down. With the forfeit of their three prior wins on their mind due to a breach of the rules by the coaching staff, it was hard enough to focus on the task at hand. Whether this had a significant impact on the players attitudes or play is impossible to know, but just listening to the stands it was on the minds and in the conversations of the fans, so it is safe to say the payers who suffered for the very same wins they were forced to forfeit couldn’t shake the apprehension felt by the fans. No matter what lay in the minds of the players, the show must go on, so the 3-3 Wildcats and the 0-7(really 3-4) Eagles took the field to initiate the brawl.

Commencing the first quarter, and throughout that same period of the game the Eagles appeared to have great control over the game. A long pass moved the home team towards the goal, and a short pass underneath in combination with a few short runs was rewarded with the first touchdown of the game just three minutes into the match. Offsetting penalties on the kick caused some confusion and a rekick, throwing off the tempo for Enloe slightly, but led to a deep kick. Milllbrook ran the deep kick from Marjan to their own 37. Thanks to the defense the Wildcats were forced to punt and Enloe drove back down the field for a second score with just 3 minutes remaining in the first quarter.

Following a touchback off the kick, the defense from Enloe succeeded once more in forcing a punt out of the opposition, and Enloe managed one more touchdown off of another beautiful deep throw from Wortham. The end of the first quarter Enloe was up 21-0 and looked to be dominating the field on both offense and defense. The crowd was electric on the home side and the student section was all smiles for the moment.

The second quarter was to be a different story entirely. Millbrook managed to fight their way up the field with a combination of runs and throws. The defense from Enloe at this point needed to change their game plan once they recognized the Millbrook strategy to mix things up and exploit the lack of coverage when it comes to runs bounced to the outside and short throws. Instead Millbrook managed to score again off of an efficient, but relatively unexciting set of plays when compared to the action shown by Enloe earlier in the game. Nonetheless the Wildcats defense held Enloe to no score in the second quarter, and entering halftime the game was suddenly 21-14.

As momentum shifted going into half time the Enloe Eagles football team attempted to rally around the words of the head coach. Millbrook’s momentum would be carried into the second half of the game unless Enloe was able to make a stop, since the Wildcats were receiving going into the third quarter.

Millbrook looked like they may repeat what occurred in the second quarter as the half began, but Enloe managed to recover a fumble and turn the tide back on them. One more long pass from Wortham, on fire when it comes to pass yards that night, has the Eagles ahead 28-14, and the Eagles fans were reinvigorated with the excitement brought on by the score. Once more things were looking good for Enloe. Following a good kick and special teams play, and a subsequent punt from both teams, the score remained the same. A short punt out of Enloe put Millbrook in good field position and they managed another score to try to close the scoring gap on Enloe. A missed PAT from Millbrook kept it a two score game, but this small victory for Enloe did not seem to make up for the poor defense on the previous drive and the sound of the Millbrook side fans.

The third quarter ended and the true test of strength for both teams began. At this point in the game players were exhausted and it had truly become a war of attrition, a slugfest, both teams just trying to prove who wanted it more. Enloe still seemed moderately confident being up two scores, but this same confidence appeared to fuel the fire in the Millbrook players, and the fourth quarter was something to be feared if you were on the home side of the stands.

 A long kickoff return to bring them to the 50 promised something in the way of a score for the homecoming Eagles, but the drive was to be stopped before it could even really get going. Enloe was forced to punt, but did leave Millbrook with undesirable field position, as they were on their own 13 yard line. Another big play from Enloe caused a turnover on downs for Millbrook, granting the Eagles incredible field position and just the opportunity they needed, but they were only able to capitalize on the opportunity with a 31 yard field goal from Marjan. Enloe was sitting pretty with 31 points over the 20 on the Millbrook side, causing Enloe to count their chickens before they hatch so to speak, and them to underestimate the skill of the Millbrook side to score with quickness and lethality.

The visiting team drove back up the field from bad field position, this time without turning the ball over, and it paid off. A long pass came out and made the game only a one score game following a two point conversion from Millbrook to make up for the missed PAT earlier. With just five minutes to go it was crucial that Enloe maintain the three point lead or increase it if possible. They failed to do so quickly following the kickoff from Millbrook and a pick six was thrown by Wortham. The score was 35-31 Millbrook after a successful PAT, and things looked grave for the Eagles.

Millbrook appeared to have turned the game around with two quick scores and the lead in hand, but Enloe would not go down without a fight. The saving grace of the game for the home team, deep passes, once again led the Eagles to a score. A 41 yard reception by Isaiah Jacobs turned the score to 37-35. Enloe’s coaching staff did not seem confident in the three point difference, which could have invited a field goal to take the game to overtime. This caused the decision for a two point conversion to come out from the sidelines, but the Eagles were unable to make it into the endzone on this particular play, and it was only a two point game due to the gamble on the part of the play caller.

No matter the failed conversion Enloe was still up two points with just three minutes left in the fourth quarter. The defense made a valiant attempt to slow down the Millbrook offense, but even with a quarterback injury for the Wildcats and a sack on the backup in Enloe territory they were unable to stop the opposition,  a force to be reckoned with at that point in the game, in stark contrast to the meek showing in the first quarter. The confidence on the Enloe side seemed to have evaporated into thin air then, a few fans had left, and the driving force for the Enloe team, the push for the score experienced the rest of the game had dissipated.

With a dying breath, the real homecoming kings of Enloe push the ball from their own 20 to their own 42, but it seems they would go no further Friday Night. A chilling result for the Eagles fans, players, and coaches, Millbrook; victorious 42-37 over the disheartened defenders of the nest.