By Vicki A Schneider
Opening their conference season at Tiger Stadium in Mansfield, the Paris Eagles needed to get off to a good start in the game and keep the Tigers from gaining any momentum. Unfortunately, the Eagles played a very sloppy first half, never getting the offense going, and found themselves trailing the Tigers 7–0 at the halftime break.
Paris’ offense struggled as the "O" line could not keep the Tiger defense at bay and after a paltry two yards on offense in the half, things did not look good for the Eagles.
With more pep in their step and newfound energy, the Eagles returned to the field with a new game plan and took advantage of a short kick by the Tigers to begin the second half. Beginning at their own 34-yard line, the Eagles overcame a holding penalty and came up with a big pass play and a face mask penalty on the Tigers to move the ball toward the end zone. After the penalty, the Eagles were sitting on the Tiger 18-yard line and quarterback David Buchanan followed his linemen and lead blockers to push into the end zone on a one-yard carry with 8:02 remaining in the quarter. Rondney Lo tacked on the extra point to tie the game at 7–7.
Late in the quarter, the Eagles took over at their own 19-yard line and put together a four play scoring drive that culminated with a 79-yard pass from Buchanan to Trenton Moeller. Lo’s extra point attempt was just a bit wide leaving the score at 13–7 with 52.2 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Mansfield gave Paris a gift just before the end of the quarter when they fumbled the ball at their own 44-yard line. Devin Ellingburg recovered the fumble for Paris who put together a scoring drive in which Ellingburg took a Buchanan pass seven yards to the end zone with 11:05 left in the game. The two point conversion attempt failed leaving the score at 19–7.
Ellingburg was instrumental in Paris’ final score of the game as well. After picking off a Tiger pass attempt to give the Eagles the ball at the 34-yard line, Ellingburg carried the ball three times during the drive. Buchanan connected with Andy Trusty for a huge fourth down 10-yard gain and a first down at the 17-yard line. A motion penalty on the Eagles didn’t stall the drive as Buchanan connected with Grant Hutson for the 17-yard score. Lo nailed the extra point to give the Eagles a 26-7 lead with 5:38 to play in the game.
Ryan Brown came up with a huge sack on the Mansfield quarterback a few plays later to give the Eagles the ball at their own 20-yard line. Zach Graham got an opportunity to run the ball during this possession and took the Eagles all the way to the three yard line before the Eagles decided to take a knee to run out the clock and preserve the victory.
The win gives the Eagles a 1–0 conference record and puts them in a four way tie with Cedarville, Charleston, and Lamar. The Eagles will tackle the Charleston Tigers this Friday in an extremely crucial match-up between the two conference foes. Charleston has bested the Eagles for the past three years so the Eagles are looking for a bit of revenge and are hoping to throw a wrench in the conference battle with a victory over the Tigers. Kickoff is set for 7 pm at Eagle Stadium.
Paris 0 0 13 13 - 26
Mansfield 7 0 0 0 - 7