For more than a year, the Edgewood football team was waiting for its chance to get back on the field against Escambia with a spot in the state championship on the line. The Wildcats put themselves in position to get the opportunity but Escambia proved to be too much, holding Edgewood to 93 yards of offense and forcing three turnovers in a 49-7 victory Friday night.
“They were playing their best football of the year and we knew that,” Edgewood coach Darryl Free said. “They had a good defensive scheme coming in and they executed a good game plan. The game just kind of got away from us.”
After spotting Escambia 14 points in the opening six minutes, Edgewood got on the board with a 12-yard touchdown run by Mitchell Boyd. The Cougars quickly answered to extend the lead back to two touchdowns before the end of the first quarter and shut out the Wildcats for the rest of the night.
“We didn’t have to make any adjustments,” Free said. “They scored a few times early and we just missed opportunities we had to close the gap. Once we fell behind so far, we had to do things out of our identity and it was a bad situation for us.”
Edgewood (9-3) completed just three of 16 pass attempts and threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown in the third quarter. The Wildcats were minus-3 in turnover margin and converted just three of 14 third downs while going 0-for-2 on fourth down.
“Those were huge,” Free said. “We were moving the ball around a couple of times and we had a turnover on downs at the 1-yard line. We could never really find a groove on the offensive side of the ball. They got us off our game plan but I think we left some opportunities on the field.”
Boyd led the Wildcats with 63 yards on 20 carries while Kaleb Varner caught one pass for 32 yards and finished with 81 all-purpose yards.
Escambia (9-3) returns to the state championship game for the fourth straight season, setting up a rematch with Autauga. The Cougars averaged 9.8 yards per play and finished with 439 yards of offense.
“On both sides of the ball, we did some uncharacteristic things for us,” Free said. “We missed some tackles that went for some big plays for them. We played good football all year but unfortunately, we didn’t play our best game tonight when we needed it the most.”
Despite the loss, Edgewood finished with one more win than it did last season as the Wildcats continue to build their program to what it once was. The margin of defeat was the largest of the season for Edgewood but Free said he wants his players to take something from the loss.
“That’s life,” Free said. “Hopefully there is a lot to learn from a game like this on and off the field. Sometimes things aren’t going to go the way you want them to and you have to respond to that.”