Coming off of their best performance of the season, the Paris Eagles had no time to wonder what might have been after their last minute loss to rival Charleston. Atkins is looking for attention and not finding respect, and came into last Friday’s football game with something to prove.
Early on, it went as Paris prefers, taking the opening drive and controlling the ball on a sustained scoring drive. DaKovan Wise scampered in from five yards out to give Paris the early lead. When the defense held, Paris locked to have momentum before an interception return for 60 yards gave Atkins the lead and turned the tide. They missed the PAT and Paris was clinging to a 7-6 lead after the first period ended.
From there, everything went wrong. Mental mistakes, missed tackles, and blown opportunities piled up on Paris.
In the second period, Atkins capitalized and scored on a 15-yard run, a 70-yard reception, and a two-yard run. Paris had the ball first and goal at the nine with seconds left before half, and the play that people will be talking about for weeks unfolded. The Kris Graham pass was intercepted on the near sideline. During the return, a flag was thrown on Atkins, and then a blocking the back on Paris, and when it all unfolded, Atkins had returned the ball 70 yards for a score.
The ruling on the field was offsetting penalties, one being unsportsmanlike conduct on Atkins. There was a lengthy conference between the officiating crew before they ruled that the play would stand and Atkins would be awarded the score. Paris went into the half frustrated and trailing 31-7.
In the third quarter, things didn’t get much better. Paris opened strong and scored on a 23-yard pass from Graham to Justus Lee, but Atkins put up three more scores, running the score to 52-14.
With the second team in for both squads in the fourth quarter, Paris put six more points on the board when Louis Koch scored, bring it to the final of 52-20.
DaKovan Wise led the Eagles with 93 yards on the ground, Graham added 93 through the air, but the miscues were just too costly. Paris had eight fumbles and 2 two interceptions on the evening. Though they did recover five of the fumbles, they still negated the opportunity to advance the line of scrimmage and build momentum on offense. On defense, Matthew Ezell led with 14 tackles, followed by Travis Bryant with nine and Blaise Woods with eight.
Paris must now travel to Perryville where they will be battling for their playoff lives against a team in a similar situation, needing a win to stay in the postseason conversation. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Perryville Friday night.