Escambia, Fountain roll past Pike, 50-8

Published 11:51 pm Friday, October 4, 2013

Escambia Academy coach Hugh Fountain is a familiar face around Troy, but, he accomplished something Friday night that he had never done in 16 years as the coach at Charles Henderson. He won a game in Troy as a visitor. Fountain won his first homecoming to Troy as the coach of the Escambia Academy Cougars in a 50-8 rout.

Despite the victory coming in a town where Fountain has a lot of history, he said that the victory was not any sweeter. “It always feels good to win,” Fountain said. “I worked in Troy for 16 years, but none of that had anything to do with Pike Lib. Working at Charles Henderson was the experience of a lifetime, and it always feels good to come back and see folks you know.”

It was a night where nothing went right for the Patriots. Without starting quarterback Rush Hixon, the Patriots mustered very little on offense. In fact, the Patriots did not complete a pass until four minutes left in the game.

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The Patriot defense competed well in the first half against a physical Escambia team. The Patriots and Cougars traded their first two possessions of the game. With just over five minutes to go in the first quarter, Drew Starling lined up to punt deep in his own territory. He let off a booming kick which Escambia running back Tim Finklea gathered at a sprint. Finklea tore through the Patriot punt coverage and returned the ball 55 yards for the game’s opening score. Finklea tacked on a two-point conversion to put the Cougars up by 15.

The Patriots went three-and-out on their next possession, and the Cougars took the ball over on the Pike 23-yard line. Backed into a corner, the Patriot defense showed its toughness and stuffed the Cougars on fourth down to get the ball back to their offense.

The Pike offense was incapable of staying on the field and promptly went three-and-out. On their next drive, the Cougars methodically moved the ball downfield en route to a 61-yard touchdown drive that ended with a Kris Brown 10-yard touchdown run. A two-point conversion made the score 23-0

Pike’s offensive struggles continued on their next possession when Scott Brantley intercepted a Brian Adams pass and returned it 55 yards for another Cougar touchdown. Brantley failed to convert the extra point, so Escambia’s lead sat at 29.

The Cougars added one final touchdown before the half when Brett Gorum connected with Finklea on a 19-yard pass to make the score 36-0 going into the break.

During halftime, coaches Gene Allen and John Higgins were not pleased with their team’s effort. “You all have the guts of a skeleton,’ Allen said to his team.

Coach Higgins was more forceful in his critique. “You better find something in your heart because that’s how you play the game of football,” Higgins said. “Every week someone who isn’t supposed to win a ball game wins one. You have to believe that you are that team. You will learn more about yourself in this game than you will in the rest of your life.”

It was more of the same after halftime for the Patriots. Brooks scored on a 9-yard run to make the score 43-0, and Kevin Gumapac connected with Jake Leachman on a 14-yard fade to give the Cougars a 50 point lead.

The Patriots’ lone bright spot of the night happened with just over five minutes left in the game. Quarterback Drew Starling scrambled for a five-yard touchdown run. Starling then connected with Adams on a two-point conversion for a final score of 50-8.

After the game, coach Allen praised his defense’s effort. “We played really hard defensively for that first quarter,” Allen said. “Then it started to get out of hand once they started hitting their big plays. At this point in the season, we’re just trying to get healthy. We need to fix our blocking and tackling, the basics of the game.”

Pike will need to find answers quickly. The Patriots travel to Greenville next week to play region rival Fort Dale. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.