High school football in Clay County and hall-of-fame coach Danny Horn proved the perfect storm once again, and they came through a perfect-storm game to make history Thursday.
Quentin Knight’s 1-yard touchdown run and Clayton Yates’ extra point with 43 seconds left lifted Clay Central on top in a classic Super 7 game, and the Vols held on to beat Vigor 43-42 in the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s 5A title game in Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The victory gave Horn his seventh state championship, the other six coming at Clay County, which merged with rival Lineville to form Clay Central in 2012. A 2017 inductee in the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame, Horn came back to Clay County this season after a nine-year stay at Benjamin Russell.
“The good Lord has really blessed me to win some games and some championships,” Horn said, “but I can’t remember one any better than this one.”
The Vols (12-3) emerged as champions after starting the season 3-3. They became the butt of jokes around the state when the celebrated blocking a field goal on the final play at Mortimer Jordan, only to see a Mortimer Jordan player scoop up the loose ball and score the winning touchdown.’
Clay Central had to go on the road to beat Madison Academy and top-ranked Etowah in the playoffs then avenged the loss to Mortimer Jordan on the road, in the semifinals.
With the help of defensive touchdowns in the first half and quarterback Boyd Ogles’ passing in the second, the Vols put up 42 points against a Vigor defense that gave up just 92 through its first 14 games.
Then there’s the sense of history in a county where two schools that once formed one of Alabama high school football’s greatest rivalries merged. Clay Central had not made it past the quarterfinals until this year.
Add Horn’s seventh title, and a special occasion matched a special game.
“Getting the seventh one, that’s a Biblical number, seven, and I always said I always would like to get number seven,” Horn said. “It means so much for this community.”
Game most valuable player Shamari Simmons, son of Clay County great Stanford Simmons, caught six passes for 102 yards, including a 17-yarder on fourth down and 10 from the Vigor 18-yard line to set up Knight’s winning touchdown.
Clay Central attempted the same play on third down. Horn saw how open Simmons was and called it again.
“The first time, it was open, and it was a little low,” Simmons said. “I just felt like, I just need it in my hands in that fourth and 10 and made the play.”
Vigor (13-2) made it to Clay Central’s 25-yard line but drew a false start call with three seconds left, ending the game.
Ogles finished 14-for-33 for 190 yards and a touchdown. This after Clay Central gained just 52 total yards in the first half.
“We just executed our plans in the second half,” Ogles said. “We had a plan to throw the ball coming into the game, and there were some passes and reads I missed in the first half. The second half, we had to throw it a little bit more.”
(Story From Mark Edwards, Anniston Star)
MARS HILL 53 - LINDEN 26
Pinson Valley coach Patrick Nix faced a tough decision midway through the fourth quarter and called timeout.
Clinging to a 19-17 lead and facing fourth-and-1 at the Pinson 46, he had two options: Gamble by putting the ball in the hands of quarterback Bo Nix, the AHSAA’s all-time total offense leader, or play it safe by punting and playing defense.
The timeout -- elongated by TV coverage -- clearly turned into a debate.
“I know the offense wanted us to go for it,” Patrick Nix said. “They thought we could get 1 yard, and we may have.”
"I almost had him, too," Bo interjected.
"The bottom line is our defense has done it all year," Patrick continued. "I had a lot of confidence that if we could get them back inside the 20, it'd be hard for them to drive the length of the field."
It was the right choice.
Bo Nix’s 39-yard punt rolled to the Saraland 15 and Pinson Valley’s Joel Parker sacked Saraland quarterback Brett Nezat on first down. After a run for no gain, Kendall Thorton intercepted Nezat’s long pass and returned it 32 yards for the game-clinching touchdown.
The extra point made it 26-17 with 5:03 to go. Game over.
"The pick-6 was absolutely huge and was the difference in the game," Bo Nix said. "That flipped momentum, and after that the game was really out of distance for them."
The victory gives Pinson Valley back-to-back Class 6A state championships.
Nix’s 2-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter staked Pinson Valley a 19-10 lead, and it gave him the AHSAA career record for touchdowns accounted for, with 161. That gave him 127 touchdown passes and 34 touchdown runs.
Nix threw an 83-yard touchdown to Geordan Pollard and he had 2-yard TD run in the first half.
“I’ll remember it for the rest of my life, and doing it here at Auburn, it’s a dream come true,” Bo Nix said.
Nix, named Alabama’s Gatorade Player of the Year earlier this week, plans to graduate from Pinson Valley later this month and enroll at Auburn in January
“We had a chance -- had a chance -- we just couldn’t finish it off in the end,” Saraland coach Jeff Kelly said.
“Let’s not make all this about Bo and I, if you don’t mind. We’ve about beat that horse to death. It’s obviously been a great run. Very proud of him as a dad, very proud of him as a coach. But quite honestly, I’m very proud of all of these guys as a dad and as a coach, because I might as well be their dad, too.” -- Partrick Nix
“This was a total team win -- any other team would have collapsed there when it got close. Our defense really held their ground, and we couldn’t have done it without them.”
(Article from AL.com)
Mars Hill needed just one play to take control of the Class 1A championship game.
Colt Smith raced 65 yards -- essentially untouched -- for a touchdown in the game’s first offensive snap, and the Panthers blew past Linden 53-26 to win Thursday’s Class 1A championship game at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium.
“Coach told me before the game we were going to trap on the first play,” Smith said. "I was thinking about it in pre-game. I got through the line and the hole was huge and all I was thinking was, ‘Don’t get caught.’ "
For Mars Hill, it’s the school’s first state championship in the program’s fifth year of existence, and it’s the second time today a school won its first state title. Flomaton won the 3A title earlier today, the first in Hurricanes' history.
“Being the first ones to do it, we’ll always be remembered,” Smith said.
Smith scored five touchdowns -- three rushing, one receiving and one on an interception return to earn the MVP award. He finished with 17 carries for 168 yards and TD runs of 65, 15 and 25 yards. His TD catch covered 36 yards. He also had 17 tackles and returned the interception for a touchdown with 1:01 to play.
Smith tied three 1A Super 6/7 records -- most tackles (17), most touchdowns (5) and most points (30).
Joseph Hanson returned an interception for a touchdown and threw the TD pass to Smith. Peyton Higgins added a touchdown run for the Panthers.
Despite, the loss, it was a record-breaking night for Linden, too.
Linden’s Graderius Brown set a bevvy of Class 1A Super 6/7 records, including most passing yards (292), most pass attempts (44), most completions (22) and most TD passes (4). He hooked up with Kevin Green on TD passes of 10, 8 and 85 yards, and Green set 1A Super 6/7 record for receptions (13), receiving yards (207) and TD catches (3). Brown was sacked twice.
Did you know?: The only other team from Lauderdale County to win a state title was Lauderdale County High in 1974. That drought is now over.
“We wanted to do it for all of Florence and Lauderdale County,” Mars Hill coach Darrell Higgins said. "I’m from Florence. When I was at Deshler, people kept saying, ‘Good thing you’re over here, you can’t win one over there.’I told our guys,w e’re not just playing for Mars Hill. We’re playing for all of Lauderdale County.
Darrell Higgins noted the Panthers' seniors were 10th-graders when he arrived as head coach before the 2016 season.
“I said, ‘Guys it’s going to be hard. It’s going to be commitment. It’s going to be the most commitment you’ve ever seen,'" Higgins said. "They said, ‘Coach, we want it, we want it all in football.’ They went to work, and they haven’t taken a day off yet.”
(Article from AL.com)
CENTRAL PHOENIX CITY 52 - THOMPSON 7
Flomaton coach Doug Vickery saw a vision of the future back in mid-October.
Following consecutive region losses to Bayside Academy and Mobile Christian, the Hurricanes edged Thomasville 43-42. After the game, Vickery told his team, "We'll be in Auburn."
He was right.
Flomaton forced six turnovers and defeated Piedmont 23-12 for the Class 3A title this afternoon at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The Hurricanes (12-3) recovered four fumbles and picked off two passes en route to the first state title in program history.
Flomaton quarterback Daquan Johnson overcame three interceptions by throwing a 14-yard touchdown pass to Samuel Smith and scoring on runs of 2 and 3 yards.
Johnson’s 2-yard TD run put the Hurricanes ahead for good, 16-12, with 50 seconds to go in the third quarter. Adarius Odom added a 25-yard field goal in the first quarter for Flomaton.
Fifth-ranked Piedmont (12-3) got a 3-yard touchdown run from Mason Mohon and a 75-yarder from Kaedon Jenkins. Piedmont had 218 yards of offense, with 75 coming on Jenkins' touchdown run.
Johnson was named MVP after running 43 times for 100 yards, completing 6-of-13 passes for 166 yards and a TD. On defense, he intercepted a pass, forced a fumble, recovered a fumble and led the team with six tackles, including a stop on the game’s final play.
This invite to the 3A Super 7 was Piedmont's third trip in the past four years. Thursday's 23-12 loss was the Bulldogs' first in a championship game under Head Coach Steve Smith.
FYFFE 21 - LUVERNE 19
CENTRAL-CLAY COUNTY 43 - VIGOR 42
PINSON VALLEY 26 - SARALAND 17
UMS WRIGHT 52 - DESHLER 0
Central-Phenix City dominated.
The Red Devils' D.J. Rias returned the opening kickoff 67 yards to set up a quick touchdown, Ray Thornton returned an interception 68 yards to set up a field goal early in the third quarter, and Central-Phenix City ran away with a 52-7 victory over Thompson in Wednesday night’s Class 7A championship game at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium.
“We just wanted to dominate, and we just wanted to come out and prove who we were,” Central-Phenix City coach Jamey DuBose said. “There’s a lot of questions. A lot of people think we’re in Georgia, I think. You never hear about us. We’re hidden.”
The Devils (14-0) aren’t hidden anymore.
The victory earns Central its first state title since 1993. For DuBose, it’s his third career state title, but first with the Red Devils. Central also equalled the single-season school record for wins, also set during the 1993 championship season.
Central bedevilled Thompson senior and Alabama quarterback commit Taulia Tagovailoa all night, limiting him to 7-for-11 passing for a career-low 44 yards and an interception. He had minus-11 yards rushing, thanks to four Central sacks.
Tagovailoa left the game briefly in the first half and missed a series, but returned and showed no obvious signs of the injury. Once Central built 38-0 lead, Tagovailoa did not play again.
Tagovailoa played despite a shoulder injury suffered in the semifinal victory over Hoover, the quarterback and coach Mark Freeman revealed after the game.
Central's Joseph McKay scored after just 2:08, and Peter Parrish added a first-quarter touchdown run to make it 14-0.
“It started spiralling early,” Thompson coach Freeman said. “They were the better football team tonight.”
Trailing 21-0, Thompson drove to the Central 15 in the final minute of the first half, but got didn't even get a field goal attempt.
The Warriors (12-2) got the ball to start the second half, but Thornton quickly intercepted Tagovailoa. Thompson fumbled on its next two drives, including an 8-yard scoop-and-score by Trevon Miller with 7:15 to go in the third quarter for a 38-0 lead.
Marquez Henry also returned an interception -- thrown by Thompson’s Sawyer Pate -- for a touchdown with 2:33 to go in the third quarter for a 45-0 lead. Tucker Melton’s 8-yard TD run in the fourth quarter made it 52-0.
Parrish, an LSU commit, outplayed Tagovailoa, finishing with 11 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown and completing 5-of-9 passes for 78 yards and a 24-yard TD pass to Eddie Williams.
Pate connected with J.B. Mitchell for a 26-yard touchdown with 3:58 to go, allowing Thompson to avoid the shutout.
(Article From AL.com)
FLOMATON 23 - PIEDMONT 12
Payton Anderson’s running combined with huge defensive stops helped Fyffe defeat Luverne 21-19 in tonight’s gritty Class 2A state championship game at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Anderson ran for 177 yards and two touchdowns as he eclipsed 2,000 yards for the season.
Luverne (13-2) rolled up 439 yards, but Fyffe’s defense repeatedly made clutch plays. In the second half, the Red Devils denied a potential game-tying 2-point conversion run in the fourth quarter, and forced a turnover on downs at the Fyffe 23-yard line (third quarter) and 39 (fourth). Fyffe also forced a turnover on downs at the 1 in the first quarter, and held Luverne (13-2) to a field goals after the Tigers twice moved within the Fyffe 15 in the second quarter.
"The (defense) has played good all year, but we hadn't played anybody as good as Luverne," Fyffe coach Paul Benefield said.
“They stretched us to the limit. Our defense stood tall.”
Luverne quarterback Dionte Brantley’s 1-yard TD run with 2:34 to go in the game had pulled the Tigers to within two. Luverne also got within two, 14-12, when Brantley scored on an 8-yard keeper on the first play of the fourth quarter. The 2-point run failed.
The Red Devils previously claimed Blue Maps in 2016 and 2014; 282 - Career wins for Benefield. His victory total ranks ninth in state history; 2003 - The last year Luverne made it to a championship game prior to tonight. Mike Dubose was the Tigers' coach. Luverne won titles in 1997 and 1991.
A Super 7 touchdown was overturned via replay for the first time after officials determined that Luverne’s Satyler Wilson did not maintain possession on his 10-yard catch. The Tigers had to settle for a field goal that made it 7-3 at the 5:28 mark of the second quarter.
“The kids played with courage and heart and persevered through a lot of bad times this year; a lot of injuries. I’m so proud of them. I don’t even know how I can express in words," said Fyffe Coach Benefield
“Our guys played their behinds off from start to finish. We left a lot out there. We knew when we didn’t score on the first drive, then we had to kick those field goals, that they might be tough to overcome. We were glad to get some points, but we just couldn’t finish a few drives. Our guys fought to the bitter end. We didn’t give up all the way until the final play. I’m really, really proud of them.” -- Luverne coach Scott Rials
(Article from AL.com)
Top-ranked UMS-Wright put an exclamation point on a perfect season Friday morning at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The Bulldogs forced three first-half turnovers, built a 24-0 halftime lead, got a Super 7 record four TD receptions from Keyshawn Woodyard and cruised to a 52-0 victory over Deshler in the Class 4A championship game.
It marks UMS-Wright’s eighth state title, second in a row and the seventh for head coach Terry Curtis in 20 years at the school. He is a perfect 7-0 in title game appearances and now has an AHSAA-record 70 playoff victories.
The Bulldogs finished 14-0 – the third unbeaten season for Curtis. Deshler finished 9-6. UMS also beat Deshler for the 2005 state title. The other Bulldog championships came in 1987, 2001, 2002, 2008, 2012 and 2017.
Curtis’ team took firm control in the first half even though they played much of the way without junior running back Symon Smith. The reigning Class 4A Back of the Year was injured on his final carry of the first quarter and did not return.
However, Woodyard, Edwin White and Skipper Snypes had the game in hand.
Woodyard’s four TD receptions came from three different players – two from Snypes and one each from Smith and Richard Brinson. White had a pair of first-half interceptions on defense, carried the rushing load in Smith’s absence and set up a pair of TDs with long punt returns.
Snypes threw for 182 yards and two scores.
Jeb Barber and Trey Singleton scored on short runs in the third quarter as well. White scored on a 5-yard run early in the fourth.
As usual, the UMS defense held up its end of the bargain as well. The Bulldogs limited Deshler to 111 yards of offense and eight first downs in another smothering performance.
(Article from AL.com)
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