By Bobby Mathews, Sports Editor
CENTER POINT — The Eagles were left wondering “What if?” here on Friday night, as they had at least two scores called back by penalties and fumbled the ball away on a potential scoring drive against Pleasant Grove in a 49-21 loss.
Pleasant Grove keyed on Troy Bruce, taking advantage of a mismatch at the line of scrimmage to frustrate the Eagles’ top running back. But as the Spartans collapsed on Bruce, it left Jabari Collier wide open, and the Center Point quarterback made them pay repeatedly.
Collier drove the Eagles downfield on the game’s first possession and scored on a one-yard run with 8:40 left in the first quarter. Antonio Sebastian added the extra point, and Center Point led 7-0.
Pleasant Grove answered less than a minute later as Alex Young trotted into the end zone from three yards out on a three-play drive by the Spartans. A two-point conversion made it 8-7 in favor of the visitors.
Collier re-took the lead for Center Point on a 24-yard jaunt with 5:40 left in the quarter. The junior quarterback had 195 yards on 22 carries with two scores.
In the second quarter, things began to go sideways for the Eagles, with multiple penalties negating big gains and trapping Center Point continually behind the sticks. Pleasant Grove’s defense began to tee off, and the Spartan offense put up 20 more points to lead 28-14 at the half.
“Self-inflicted wounds came back to hurt us,” Center Point coach George Bates said after the loss. “We had a touchdown called back, a couple of big plays called back. We kept shooting ourselves in the foot, and against a very good Pleasant Grove team, you can’t do that. This is the best team that we’ve played. They’re so explosive. They’re athletic, they have great size. But I’m really proud of what we accomplished as a team.”
Center Point came out swinging in the second half, recovering an onside kick and taking the ball all the way down the field, capped by a 15-yard pass from Collier to Therman Moore for a touchdown. The Eagles trailed only 28-21 early in the third, but Pleasant Grove was able to re-exert control and pull away for the 49-21 win.
The Eagles were one of only 8 teams left in the 5A playoffs, making the quarterfinal bracket with wins against East Limestone and Ramsay to get to host a home game against the Spartans.