Eagles hurt Lee County through the air
Douglas Byrd rallied from a 14-0 deficit to take sole possession of first place in the Cape Fear Valley Conference with a 35-21 homecoming victory over visiting Lee County Friday night.
Senior quarterback Elijah Bulger hurt the Yellow Jackets with deep passes late in the first half for two touchdowns in a span of 1:04. The Eagles (5-2, 2-0) then won the second half 21-7 with Bulger’s arm plus the running combo over Alonzo Hurtado and Montez Samuels.
Lee County’s defense held the upper hand early in the Jackets’ first CFVC match-up against the Eagles.
The Jackets held the Eagles without a first down until the fourth Eagle possession of the night.
The Jackets methodically marched the ball down the field with their second possession, going 80 yards in 12 plays in a seven-plus minute drive.
Duane’ Bland connected with running back Jerry Pullum on a 28-yard screen pass to move into Byrd territory and a pass interference flag bailed the Jackets out of 3rd-and-14, then another 15-yard penalty on the Eagles took the Jackets to the Eagle 16-yard line.
Bland hit Nolan Groce on a short toss, then 12-yard scamper into the end zone. Ian Frye’s extra point made it 7-0 Yellow Jackets with 10:20 left in the half.
The Jacket defense got another three-and-out and the Jacket offense capitalized right away with Bland going deep to John Nguyen for a 60-yard touchdown with 8:03 left.
The Eagles got on the board with Hurtado scoring on a 14-yard run capping a 41-yard drive.
Forcing a Jacket punt and gaining possession on the Jacket 49, the Eagles hit back-to-back passes, one to Jose Sanchez and the next to Dana Dudley for a 13-yard touchdown. Sanchez was Bulger’s best target on the night, getting five catches for 143 yards.
With a 14-14 halftime score, Lee County received the second-half kick but didn’t get the ball to start the half.
Thomas Ferguson, a defensive lineman primarily, fielded the line-drive kick, rushed ahead for good yardage, then was stripped of the ball while trying to struggle through tacklers. Douglas Byrd got the recovery on the Lee 42.
With a 10-play drive, the Eagles took the lead, with Bulger racing around the left end and scoring on a 4th-and-goal from the four.
The Eagles went ahead by two touchdowns early in the fourth with Samuels diving in from a yard out.
Lee County fought through injuries, with multiple defensive starters going out and Bland struggling through the second half.
Pullum moved to quarterback for a couple of series. Bland came back on to lead a pass-heavy Jacket touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.
Bland connected with Pullum, Nguyen and Keyonta McDougald for key first downs, then with Nguyen on a 16-yard touchdown pass, with Nguyen making a diving catch toward the left sideline in the end zone. Douglas Byrd led 28-21 with 3:31 left.
The Jacket defense forced the Eagles into a 3rd-and-4, only for Samuels to get the carry and burst up the middle for eight yards.
On the next snap, Samuels raced 52 yards to the Jacket 1. He scored on the next play with 1:29 to play.
Bland finished the night 13-for-28 passing for 203 yards and three touchdowns and one interception. Nguyen had four catches for 102 yards and two scores.
Bulger was 14-for-22 for 202 yards and a touchdown. Hurtado had 24 carries for 106 yards and a touchdown.