EUPORA — It was like a shootout at the O.K. Corral.
Region 2-2A foes Leflore County and Eupora High School traded blows for 48 minutes Thursday night as the homestanding Eagles got in the last shot to claim a 46-40 win over the visiting Tigers.
Eupora moves to 7-2 overall and 2-1 in the league standings. Leflore County, which had its six-game winning streak snapped, falls to 6-2 and 1-1. The Tigers entertain Calhoun City on Oct. 20 and close out the regular season on Oct. 27 at East Webster.
The Tigers trailed 32-14 at the half, but showed what they are made of in the second half.
“Our kids and our coaches knew we weren’t out of the game with the athletes we have on the field,” said Leflore head coach Eric House. “We came out sluggish in the first half, but our guys stepped up and played one heck of a game in the second half.
“We made a few adjustments at the half and told them what we were going to do. We hurt ourselves with several failed 2-point conversions. Our kids can hold their heads high because we showed we can battle with one of the better 2A teams in the state. Our seniors stepped up and led this team tonight. We could have got down, but behind their leadership, we were able to battle back.”
The two teams combined for 810 yards of total offense and a combined 34 first downs. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Eupora did most of its damage through the air. Leflore gave up 413 yards through the air as senior quarterback Tanner Knight torched the Tigers for 399 yards on 15-of-20 passing with one interception and four touchdowns.
Senior wide receiver Al Dumas had seven receptions for 209 yards and two scores. Senior Zack Cooper had three grabs for 59 yards and two touchdowns. The Eagles could only muster 45 yards rushing on 33 attempts.
Leflore had better success running the football. Led by junior tailback Willie McCline and senior athlete Darius McClung, the Tigers ran for 251 yards on 43 carries. McCline led the way with 104 yards on 18 carries, and McClung finished with 83 yards on 12 attempts. He also was 2-of-2 passing for 23 yards and had two receptions for 26 yards.
Senior quarterback Chandler Robinson, who was under constant pressure, completed 9-of-17 passes for 78 yards with two picks.
Eupora got the ball first to start the third quarter and scored on its possession when Knight hit Cooper for a 27-yard scoring strike Knight booted the PAT for a 39-14 lead at the 8:15 mark.
Leflore bounced right back and drove 67 yards in six plays as McCline scored from four yards out. The try for two failed to make it 39-20.
Leflore successfully pulled off an onside kick and Kedarius Edwards recovered for the Tigers at the Eupora 49. It took the visitors from Itta Bena seven plays to reach the end zone as McClung bulled his way in from two yards out at the 3:19 mark. Again, the 2-point conversion failed to leave the score at 39-26.
Leflore’s defense forced a Eupora punt, and the offense took over at its 32. Six plays later, McCline scored on a 6-yard run to pull the Tigers to within seven at 39-32. The try for two failed.
The big play on the drive was a 49-yard run by fullback Maurice Edwards on fourth and one, but he suffered a hip pointer on the tackle and did not return to the game. Edwards also lines up on the defensive line.
“That was big blow to us when Maurice went down,” said House.
Eupora got a 4-yard TD run from Preston Perkins and a PAT from Knight to make it 46-32 with 7:18 remaining in the contest.
The Tigers kept battling. McClung raced for 12 yards and a 15-yard penalty for a late hit moved the ball to Eupora’s 32. On a third-and-four from the 26, `Willie Dixon ran for five yards for a first down. Three plays later, McClung got in from two yards out. He then added the 2-point run to make it 46-40.
Eupora recovered the onside kick and proceeded to run nine straight plays in the final 4:40 to nail down the win.
Leflore’s two scores in the first half came via a 2-yard run by McClung and a 35-yard interception return by Tyrone Payne. Maurice Edwards had the conversion.
Knight threw two TD passes for 37 yards each to Dumas, and he also ran in from eight yards out. The Eagles got a safety when Robinson was sacked in the end zone by Ash Dumas. Knight had an 8-yard scoring toss to Cooper.
nContact Calvin Stevens at email@example.com.