The Whale Branch Warriors survived injuries to key players all season, but they couldn’t hang without their workhorse Friday night.
With star running back Joseph Hicks sidelined by an ankle injury suffered last week, the Warriors’ offense stalled, and C.E. Murray turned in a dominant effort on both sides of the ball to end Whale Branch’s season with a 47-0 loss in the Class 1A Lower State semifinals.
The teams traded punts to start the game before War Eagles star Tyree Prunes hit Henry Evans III for a 76-yard touchdown to open the scoring. The Warriors twice drove inside the 10 looking for the answer, but they were stopped on downs at the 7 on the first effort, and the second turned sour. After a bad snap on third-and-goal from the 5 pushed Whale Branch back to the 19, Prunes picked off the fourth-down pass and returned it to the 40, then finished off a drive with a 7-yard TD run to make it 14-0.
The Warriors were still in it and set to receive the second-half kickoff, but too more mishandled snaps led to disaster, as the War Eagles took over at the 2 and Quentarius Grant punched in the first of his three touchdown runs to put C.E. Murray up 22-0 at halftime.
Whale Branch tried to hang in a bit longer, forcing a fumble on the goal line, but Amond Myers’ picked off a pass and took it 45 yards for a score to push the margin to 28-0. The War Eagles’ defense cashed in again on the next possession, as Justin Graham scooped up a fumble and went 45 yards to the end zone for a crushing blow.
Grant added two more touchdown runs in the fourth quarter, and the War Eagles forced a turnover to preserve the shutout.
Whale Branch finishes the season with an 8-2 record and their deepest playoff run since 2015. C.E. Murray (7-1) will take on Bamberg-Ehrhardt in the Lower State final.