The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


August 31, 2013

Ground game carries Eagles to opening win

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The Joplin Eagles, following an ideal game plan for a season opener, used a reliable running game and a solid defense to get past the Glendale Falcons 21-11 on Friday night at Lowe Stadium.

“It’s good to win. I tell the kids, don’t take it for granted,” Joplin coach Chris Shields said. “It’s good to get a win.”

The Eagles got 193 yards rushing and two scores from junior Adam Norsworthy in his first varsity start. The 5-foot-6, 148-pound speedster averaged 10.7 yards per carry, including a blinding 82-yard touchdown that put Joplin up 14-5 with 5:42 left in the first half.

“It was all cloudy and I just bounced it out,” Norsworthy said of the run. “I know when I motioned over from my pistol … the Will linebacker was shifting over to that gap so I just bounced it outside and made a cut off my receiver and it was just a foot race from there.”

Neither team scored again until Norsworthy accounted for all 45 yards of a three-play drive, breaking free for 29 yards and then scoring from 13 yards out to all but ice the win, giving the Eagles a 21-5 lead with 5:30 remaining.

Norsworthy also made some key defensive plays, moving to free safety when junior Skyler Duley had to leave the game with an injury in the second half.

“Adam played his tail off,” Shields said. “He had to move over … when Skyler went down he had to play free safety, so he’s playing on the three-receiver side and he’s 5-nothing playing over (6-4 Chandler Collins) a lot of the time. You’re just crossing your fingers, hoping they don’t see that.

“Adam did a great job.”

The Joplin defense didn’t allow a Falcon touchdown until the 4:03 mark of the fourth quarter.

Glendale scored five second-quarter points — a 35-yard Derek Roberts field goal set up by a muffed punt and a safety that was set up by a punt down to the 1-yard line.

The Eagles held Glendale to 151 rushing yards on 35 attempts. The only real success the Falcon offense had was quarterback Tyler Marion’s tosses to the tight end Collins.

Collins caught eight passes for 141 of Marion’s 188 passing yards.

Their only touchdown drive came late in the fourth quarter and was keyed by Marion’s 52-yard pass to Collins.

“The defense, that long drive at the end not withstanding, the defense played their tails off,” Shields said. “They answered time after time, blocked punts, turnovers, dropped punts, they stepped up.”

Sophomore Damian Campbell-Ketron made an impressive debut for the Eagles, sacking Marion three times, all in the first half.

“Damien Campbell made plays and he’s got our Pick Ax Award for the game,” Norsworthy said. “He stepped up as well as the rest of the defense.”

The Eagles came out of the gates hot, marching 80 yards on six plays on the opening drive. Norsworthy and Terrell Gilmore each had 11-yard runs before quarterback Tristan Ash ran for eight and then hit Temerik Branham for 14 yards.

Ash then took an option to the left side 28 yards top put the Eagles up 7-0 just 2:14 into the game.

Ash, in his first start at quarterback, rushed nine times for 48 yards. He threw just five passes, completing just the first-quarter ball to Branham.

Sophomore Colby Cornett played quarterback much of the third quarter and was 1-for-4 for six yards.

“I don’t think it was the plan necessarily, we just weren’t very successful throwing the ball,” Shields said of the run-based offense. “You have to do what’s working for you.

“I think they figured out we couldn’t throw the ball and they loaded up the box and that made it harder to run.  That kind of stymied us a little bit.”

The Eagles make their home debut next Friday against Parkview, which lost its opener 39-25 to Kickapoo.

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