Ellwood clinches playoff berth with win over Sunshine

Published 1:50 am Saturday, October 20, 2012

A host of Ellwood defenders wrap up a Sunshine ballcarrier during Friday’s game at Memorial Stadium. Ellwood defeated Sunshine, clinching a spot in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 1A playoffs. -- Tim Reeves

As the Ellwood Christian Eagles were in the process of beating Sunshine Friday evening at Memorial Stadium, they also had their eyes and minds on another game being played in Billingsley.

When the final horn sounded in Selma, the Eagles had shut out Sunshine 26-0, and then learned Billingsley had knocked off Akron, giving Ellwood a lock on a spot in the Class 1A playoffs.

“You know, it feels good, but we still need to stay focused, need to get ready for next week,” Ellwood head coach Mike Stokes said. “For so long, our defense has carried us, but the offense has started to come around and they showed a little tonight.”

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For Ellwood, they not only had to battle Sunshine, they had to battle themselves as well. Through the evening, the Eagles were flagged 16 times for 125 yards, two of which negated touchdowns.

Stokes refused comments on the penalties — and the officiating — instead saying his team needed to work on finding ways to cut down on the penalties as the playoffs approach.

But while the penalty flags were flying, the Eagle defense was in the process of pitching a shutout, holding Sunshine to just 60 yards of total offense and came up with a number of turnovers, including two interceptions by Jmiere Solomon. In fact, Solomon had a third interception and a 95-yard touchdown return that was called back when the Eagles were flagged for roughing the passer.

The Eagle defense also forced a number of fumbles, some of which halted Sunshine drives that threatened deep in Ellwood territory.

With 3:11 left to go in the third quarter, Billy Cox crushed the Sunshine quarterback, who fumbled the ball away at the 50-yard line. Ellwood’s Quintravis Johnson picked up the fumble and outran the trailing Sunshine players for an apparent touchdown.

But, Johnson was flagged for what referees called taunting when he looked to stick out his hand and wave or point at a trailing Sunshine player.

Johnson contented he was simply putting his arm out to stiff arm the would be tackler, but after originally calling it a touchdown, the referees reversed their call and reversed the play, pulling back the touchdown.

Ellwood did maintain possession and would ultimately score on a Jalen Furlow pass to Alex Arrington. The 24-yard touchdown pass came with 2:10 to go in the third quarter and gave Ellwood a 20-0 lead.

The Eagles would score again early in the fourth quarter, this time on a Furlow 18-yard run with 11:03 to go in the game. The 2-point attempt failed, leaving the score 26-0.

Furlow had another touchdown run midway through the first quarter, when he ran 10 yards with 4:49 left in the opening quarter.

Raheem Velazquez would account for the only other Ellwood touchdown, a 1-yard plunge with 3:24 to go in the first quarter.

Ellwood will play their final regional game of the year next Friday, when they travel to take on Akron. The winner of the game has a chance to move up to the No. 3 spot in the playoffs, while the loser is guaranteed the No. 4 slot.

Ellwood’s final game of the season will be at home, when they take on the Selma High Saints.