Calera picks off Saks to advance

A pair of interceptions late in the game helped keep Calera from going into overtime against Saks Friday and led the Eagles to victory in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs, 14-7.

“They (the defense) stepped it up,” said head coach Mac Thompson. “They are going to have to continue to step it up to go deep into the playoffs.”

Maleki Harris made the first of two game-saving interception on fourth-and-goal for the Wildcats with 2:18 left in the game.

“I saw that the quarterback had been running the slant all night,” Harris said. “I was just in the right place at the right time.”

After a fumble by the Eagles on their own 24-yard line with 0:59 left in the game, the Wildcats were again in the position to tie the game, but Zach Isbell stepped up and intercepted a Wildcat pass in the end zone with 0:42 left to seal the win. It was his sixth pick of the season.

“It (the interception) felt pretty good,” Isbell said. “We had to step things up and make it happen.”

Though the defense could be thanked for saving the game from entering overtime, the offense set the Eagles up for the win.

After a quiet first quarter, Calera quickly made a statement in the second with a 40-yard carry by Eugene Rogers, setting the Eagles up for their first touchdown. Rogers carried the ball in for the first points in the game from 4-yards out with 9:21 left in the half, putting Calera up 6-0. Saks blocked the point-after attempt.

The Eagles weren’t able to find the end zone again until the fourth quarter when Erik Burrells scored from 64 yards out, putting Calera up 12-0. Kendal Cox converted on the 2-point conversion to extend the lead, 14-0. Burrells finished the game with 141 yards rushing on 13 carries, while Rogers had 72 yards on 11 carries.

Saks cut the lead in half, 14-7, on a 9-yard pass with 7:16 left in the game.

The Eagles (7-4) will host Handley next Friday at 7 p.m. in the second round.