Eagles prevail on homecoming night, 33-14


The Canton Eagles earned the bounceback win they needed last week, putting the missteps and defensive miscues they suffered in a surprising loss to Mabank far in the rearview with a 33-14 win over the visiting Quinlan Ford Panthers Sept. 28 at Norris Birdwell Stadium.

Prior to kickoff, Canton held its annual homecoming festivities including the introduction of this year’s court and the crowning of the 2018 CHS Homecoming Queen Katie Nava.

Once the field was cleared, play began with Canton set to receive the opening kickoff. Things did not start well for the Eagles as Quinlan’s kick was mishandled resulting in the Panthers taking possession of the ball at the Canton 45-yard line.

Despite the early setback, the Eagle defense would set the tone for the evening by holding the Panthers to just six yards before forcing a turnover on downs.

Canton fared much better on its opening possession of the night, marching 61 yards in eight plays for the game’s first points.

The biggest play of the opening drive would be a 33-yard touchdown pass from Chris Hobbs to McGwire Martin. The ensuing PAT would be missed, giving the Eagles a 6-0 lead just minutes into the opening quarter.

Quinlan Ford and Canton traded possession throughout the rest of the first quarter and into the second before the Eagles tallied another score to extend their lead. Canton's second scoring drive of the night began with approximately 10 minutes left in the first half at their own 39-yard line following a Panther punt. After losing five yards on their first play, the Eagles got completions from McGwire Martin to both Jon Anderson and Cooper Smith to reach the Ford 34-yard line. Martin would break through the Panther defense from there, doubling Canton's lead to 12-0 with 8:39 left in the quarter. Martin would find Chris Hobbs on the ensuing two-point conversion attempt to extend the lead to 14-0. 

Ford continued to struggle offensively on its next drive as the Canton defensive line continued to smother the Panther’s run heavy offense. Quinlan’s lone scoring drive of the first half came late in the quarter after the Panthers stopped a Canton possession with an interception.

With just over three minutes to play, Ford marched from their own 34-yard line to deep into Canton territory. Facing a fourth down and goal situation from the Eagle one-yard line, Mikey McCarter mangaged to make his way into the end zone to cut into the Canton lead. Elmer Benitez added the PAT to make the score 14-7 heading into the half.

Ford opened the second half on offense, picking up just five yards on three plays before punting the ball back to Canton. The Eagles looked to be well on their way to more points on their first drive of the third quarter, reaching the Quinlan 16-yard line in eight plays before an interception returned possession back to the Panthers.

Set up at their own four-yard line, Quinlan picked up two yards on their first play from scrimmage before a bizarre set of circumstances gave Canton possession at the Panther three-yard line. A bad snap on the Panthers second play began with a bad snap that was subsequently kicked out of the Quinlan end zone. Officials ruled that the ball had been batted out illegally, giving Canton the ball just shy of the Panther end zone.

One play later, McGwire Martin found an open Cooper Smith for a three-yard touchdown completion. The PAT would be misse, keeping Canton in front 20-7 midway through the frame.

The Panthers and Eagles would swap possession of the ball one more time before the close of the quarter before Ford tallied its final points of the night with a five-yard run from Eli Chambers on the first play of the fourth quarter. Elmer Benitez added another PAT, pulling the Panthers to within 20-14 with 11:55 to play.

Canton mounted a lengthy drive after Quinlan pulled within one score, covering 50 yards in 11 plays before turning the ball back over on downs to the Panthers.  

The Eagle defense continued to hold Ford in check on their ensuing possession, yielding no yards in three plays to force another punt.

Canton put the game out of reach from there as McGwire Martin took the first play from scrimmage following the punt 64 yards for a touchdown. Canton failed on a two-point conversion attempt following the score to maintain a 26-14 lead.

Quinlan Ford suffered its own special teams miscue on the ensuing Canton kickoff, fumbling the ball back to the Eagles at the Panther 19-yard line. Jatavian McGee scored on the first Canton play from scrimmage following the turnover, extending the lead to 32-14 with 5:23 to play. Justice Collier, who recovered the previous Ford turnover, added the PAT to extend the lead to 19 points.

On the next kickoff, Ford fumbled once again only to have Collier recover the ball and give possession back to the Eagles.

Canton and Ford would trade possession throughout the rest of the fourth quarter with neither team making another tally on the scoreboard. 

The Eagles, now 2-2 on the season, will play a rare Thursday night contest tonight (Oct. 4) as they travel to Sunnyvale to take on Godley. The Wildcats, currently 2-3, started the season with back-to-back wins over Bowie and Trimble Tech before losing three straight to West, Castleberry and Clifton.

Godley currently averages 17 points per game on offense while surrendering just 15.2 points per game on defense. Senior quarterback Ian Mapes has been Godley's best playmaker this season completing 24/47 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns. In addition to his passing totals, Mapes has added 100 carries for 500 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

Defensive leaders for the Wildcats have included Landon Stevenson (35 tackles, seven sacks), Josiah Caro (48 tackles, two sacks) and Javin Hebert (28 tackles, two sacks).