By Joe Crowe, For the Tribune
CENTER POINT – The Center Point Eagles (5-2) returned to the Eagles Nest and sent the Shades Valley Mounties (3-3) home with a loss, 26-20.
The Eagles got on the board early and kept the lead for the entire game, although the Mounties gave them some tense moments as the clock ran down in the fourth quarter.
Most of the first quarter was a back-and-forth struggle until a penalty against the Eagles pushed them back to the 20. A 20-yard pass from Deon Moore to Malik Brown at 3:33, gave Center Point a 6-0 lead. Shades Valley then got a measure of payback by stuffing the Eagles’ attempt at a 2-point run.
The remaining minutes of the first quarter featured fumbles on both sides. First Shades Valley fumbled the kickoff, then Center Point made it to the Shades Valley end zone before fumbling there.
The good news kept coming for Center Point, as they got on the board again with a Moore run with 7:54 remaining in the second quarter, putting them up 12-0. The Eagles had no luck (again) with a two-point attempt.
Moore would score again. This time on a 26 yard scamper to stretch the lead to 18-0.
The Mounties then delivered the play of the night for the first half – they turned a kickoff return into a 70-plus yard run for a touchdown. Unlike their Eagle opponents, the Mounties scored on the extra point attempt.
The Eagles led 18-7 at the half.
The Eagles took to the sky in the third quarter, with a Moore 32-yard touchdown pass to Brown with 3:42 left in the third, 26-7.
It appeared that the Eagles would soar easily into the fourth quarter, but the Mounties had other plans.
A twelve-yard TD pass by Steve Brown with 3:48 remaining set the Mounties on the winning trail at 26-14.
Brown then ran in a one-yard touchdown, putting Shades Valley closer, 26-20. However, the clock proved to be the Mounties’ toughest opponent – and Center Point won the night at 26-20.
Center Point Coach George Bates said the team was approaching every game like a playoff. “It just keeps us moving forward to punching our ticket to the playoffs.”
“It was a major step for a playoff slot,” he said.
“We know every game matters at this point,” Bates said. ‘We hurt ourselves offensively with penalties, defensively we didn’t finish strong with a couple subs in and special teams we gave up a kickoff return for a touchdown.”
“So we have so much to improve on which is great to keep us focused.”
Shades Valley head coach Rueben Nelson said there were lesson to be learned. “Our kids are learning to fight.”
‘It’s disappointing,” he said. “We couldn’t get anything going on either side of the ball in the first half.”
“We started playing too late,” he said. “There is only so much time on the clock.”
Center Point’s Deon Moore accounted for 292 yards and four scores on the night.
The Eagles outgained the Mounties 405 to 280 yards.
The Eagles are now 5-2 on the season, while Shades Valley drops to 3-3.
Center Point visits Pinson Valley next week, in a clash of local rivals while Shades Valley travels to Pell City.