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Record: 2-6 Home: 1-3 Away: 1-3 HAAC: 0-2
Football - Sat, Sep. 2, 2017
Graceland University
Demonte McClary and the Eagles ran past Graceland on Saturday night in Lamoni.
Demonte McClary and the Eagles ran past Graceland on Saturday night in Lamoni.

LAMONI, Iowa - Demonte McClary rushed for three touchdowns as the Eagles defeated the Graceland Yellowjackets 44-19 on the road Saturday night in Lamoni, giving Eric Hicks his first career collegiate victory as a head coach.

The Eagles (1-1) ran all over the Yellowjackets (0-2) defense from the start, racking up more than 300 rushing yards on the night, with McClary leading the charge with over 200 yards on the ground.

While McClary may have been the star offensively, the Eagles' defense was the story on Saturday night, limiting the Graceland offense to zero first half points while allowing just a single touchdown in the red zone in the 'Jackets first four attempts. The Eagles limited the Yellowjackets to just 84 rushing yards on 33 attempts while picking up three takeaways and multiple turnover on downs in the convincing victory.

The victory was the first for the Eagles since they defeated Central Methodist on November 14, 2015 to close out the '15 season, putting an end to a 12-game losing streak. The victory was also the first in the head coaching career of Eric Hicks, who said he could not be more proud of his players.

"It feels great to get my first win, but to be honest football is not about the head coach, it's about the team and I could not be happier for this group of guys," Hicks said. "To come up here to this atmosphere under the lights and perform the way we did, I'm just so proud. We had a great week of practice and the guys bought into the game plan and they reaped the benefits tonight. It was a great team win."

The Avila defense stopped Graceland on the opening drive of the game, and then the offense marched 90 yards down the field, led by McClary's 52 yards on six carries, to take a 7-0 lead. After both teams punted on their next possessions, Avila's Yves Nguessan picked off Graceland's Jerry Greer to set the Eagles up just 35 yards from their end zone.

The Eagles would capitalize on the turnover, getting a 10-yard touchdown run from Raven Josiah to build a 13-0 lead late in the first quarter.

Avila added to their lead early in the second quarter, getting a 27-yard touchdown run from McClary to make it 19-0, and then the Eagles would add two when quarterback Spenser Lewis found Theo Berry, making it a 21-0 lead with 14:18 to play in the second quarter.

The score remained 21-0 until the second half when Avila's Terrell Abernathy returned the opening kickoff 74 yards to the house to give the Eagles a 28-0 lead. The Eagles added three more points later in the quarter on a Landen Nealy field goal to make it 31-0.

From that point on the two teams traded scores, with Graceland scoring three second half touchdowns while the Eagles would find the end zone two more times. McClary made it a 37-7 score with a 56-yard touchdown run, and then Naeem Moore took a jet sweep 33 yards to the house to give the Eagles a 44-13 lead late in the fourth quarter. The Yellowjackets scored a touchdown with just nine seconds to play to make it a 44-19 final score.

Coach Hicks was doused with a pair of Gatorade coolers late in the fourth quarter once the game was on ice, and he said that it was a feeling unlike any he's ever had before.

"I've been around football for a long time and I've played at the highest level, but I can honestly say that was one of the best experiences I've had in this game," he said about getting a Gatorade bath. "I know I took this job a few months back and I've been through an entire spring and fall camp and a couple of games with this team, but I think that may be the moment where this all really became real to me. What a great experience, and what a great win."

The Eagles will return to action at 12 p.m. next Saturday when they host the Benedictine Ravens at The Z in the team's home opener. While the Eagles will be looking to ride the momentum of their big road win at Graceland, the Ravens will be coming off of a 37-10 win over Evangel.

BOX SCORE: Avila 44 - Graceland 19 (Stats have not been officially posted due to statistical errors made during the game. Check back on Sunday for a full box score)

Avila (Mo.)138101344
Graceland (Iowa)0071219
Scoring Summary
QtrDescriptionPl-Yd TOPV - H
1st08:09 AU - Demonte McClary 1 yd run (Landen Nealy kick)9-90 4:397 - 0
 00:56 AU - Raven Josiah 10 yd run (Landen Nealy kick no good)6-37 2:4113 - 0
2nd14:18 AU - Demonte McClary 27 yd run (Theo Berry pass)2-27 0:4221 - 0
3rd14:44 AU - Terrell Abernathy 74 yd kickoff return (Landen Nealy kick)0-0 0:1628 - 0
 12:01 AU - Landen Nealy 22 yd field goal4-3 1:3131 - 0
 00:38 GU - Caleb Thomas 16 yd pass from Preston Compton (Darnel Uran kick)9-59 2:0731 - 7
 00:01 AU - Demonte McClary 56 yd run (Landen Nealy kick blocked)3-95 15:3737 - 7
4th03:42 GU - Caleb Thomas 10 yd pass from Preston Compton (Jerry Greer pass no good)1-10 0:0437 - 13
 03:29 AU - Naeem Moore 67 yd run (Landen Nealy kick)1-52 0:1344 - 13
 00:09 GU - Rossano James-Smith 2 yd run (Darnel Uran kick blocked)10-69 3:2044 - 19

Kick-It Campaign: Sophomore kicker Landen Nealy, a Houston, Texas native, is partnering once again with Kick-It to raise money for children's cancer research. Nealy began raising money with Kick-It as a high school senior to honor a fallen teammate and friend, and has raised more than $47,000 in the last two years, by far the most in the nation. Please join Landen and Avila University in the fight to end childhood cancer by pledging to join his Kick-It campaign during #ChildhoodCancerAwareness month. To view Landen's Kick-It page and to pledge, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

Here is an excerpt from Landen's Kick-It page explaining why he is doing what he is doing:

My name is Landen Nealy and I am a Sophmore at Avila University in Kansas City, Missouri, where I am studying Health Science. This is my third season raising money for children's cancer research in partnership with Kick-It, and I am the first kicker/punter to bring it to the collegiate level. During my senior year of high school, I was the #1 fundraiser in the nation raising $32,099, and this year I was also the #1 fundraiser in the nation raising $15,525.00 I am currently a spokesperson for Kick-It.

I started dedicating my seasons to a former teammate and classmate, Vincent Salario, who battled leukemia valiantly but ended up losing his fight with cancer, yet winning his wings in heaven.