UWA football takes GSC crown outright in Valdosta

VALDOSTA, Ga. – For once in their lives West Alabama players had permission to be stingy – greedy even – and it paid off as the Tigers claimed the outright 2017 Gulf South Conference football championship with a 38-14 victory over Valdosta State at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.

The win improved the Tigers to 8-2 overall and 7-1 in league play. Over the last two seasons West Alabama is 13-3 in Gulf South Conference games, winning the outright league crown this year for the first time since 2012 and winning seven GSC games for the first time in school history.

Valdosta State is 4-4 overall and 3-3 in GSC play. A Blazer win along with other GSC team wins paired with a UWA loss could have left the Tigers in a multi-team tie for the conference crown.

West Alabama made sure there was never a doubt. Valdosta State never got closer than 10 points as the Tigers ran up 511 yards of total offense, 277 of those on the ground. The Tiger defense limited VSU to just 4-of-14 on third down conversions and 1-of-3 on fourth down tries.

“We said we were going to be greedy all week,” defensive end Terrence Jones said. “Sharing was never an option.”

The Tigers jumped to a 14-0 lead on a 2-yard first quarter score and 3-yard touchdown run in the second period by Lakenderic Thomas, who finished the game with 129 yards on 18 carries. Tyler Rogers was a more than adequate compliment to Thomas, piling up 114 yards on 14 carries. Neither had a negative-yards rushing play.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this football team and this staff,” UWA head coach Brett Gilliland said. “We came out with a mindset to start fast and we made the necessary plays to do that. We set the tone early and made it stand up.”

A 25-yard field goal by Colin Douglas and a 29-yard touchdown pass from Valdosta State quarterback Rogan Wells to Brian Saunds with just over a minute left in the second quarter made it 17-7 West Alabama at the half.

“We didn’t want to share a title, so this was a statement game for us,” Thomas said. “Our offensive line may have had their best game all year. They knew what we had to do and did it.”

Rogers dampened the Valdosta State halftime enthusiasm by sprinting 59 yards to score on the fifth play of the second half, increasing the UWA lead to 24-7.

“Our scout team did a great job all week giving us a great look,” Rogers said. “Our offensive line got a great push and it’s just our job to hit the hole.”

Wells hooked up with Tshumbi Johnson for a 14-yard touchdown pass to cut the West Alabama lead to 24-14 with 9:03 left in the third period. The Blazers would not score again.

Donta Armstrong made a SportsCenter Top 10 touchdown play, leaping over double coverage in the endzone to snatch a 31-yard touchdown pass from Harry Satterwhite to make it 31-14 with 10:22 left.

“We came out of the timeout and Coach Gilliland and Coach (offensive coordinator Don) Bailey said ‘let’s end this thing’,” Armstrong said. “Once the ball is in the air it’s either ours or nobody’s. I knew I would come down with it.”

Tevin Moore finished the scoring with 28 seconds left, capping a 10-play, 40-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run.

Satterwhite was 18-for-30 for 234 yards and was sacked just one time. Wells completed 17-of-34 for 199 yards and was sacked three times. Wells was also VSU’s leading rusher with 91 yards on 16 carries.

Armstrong finished with seven catches for 118 yards and Barnard McGhee caught four for 31. Armstrong finished with 197 all-purpose yards after getting 79 punt return yards.

Saunds was VSU’s leading receiver with five grabs for 76 yards.

Terry Samuels was West Alabama’s leading tackler with 6.5 stops, including a sack. Jones and Devante Davis also sacked Wells. Malik Slater had 7.5 tackles to lead Valdosta State.

West Alabama finishes the regular season by hosting North Greenville in a non-conference game Saturday at Tiger Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. Valdosta State closes its season at Shorter.

Sweet Water strokes Class 2A New Brockton in regular season finale

Sweet Water largely controlled things throughout in its final regular season tune-up Friday, working its way to a 35-7 victory over Class 2A New Brockton.

Jacory Brown opened the scoring on a 2-yard touchdown run with 7:40 left in the first quarter. Brown scored on a 9-yard run less than three minutes later for the 14-0 lead.

The Bulldogs opened it up more on a 1-yard Jonah Smith touchdown run with 11:44 remaining in the second quarter.

Shamar Lewis broke a 32-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and Brown added a 3-yard scoring plunge in the fourth.

Sweet Water amassed 440 yards of total offense highlighted by a trio of 100-yard rushers. Brown ran for 112 yards and three scores. Jaylon Williamson had 103 yards while Lewis ran for 100 yards and a TD.

Sweet Water (8-1, 7-0) hosts Notasluga in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs next week.

Marengo mauls Southern Choctaw

Marengo High finished its regular season with user dominating 42-12 win over Class 2A Southern Choctaw Friday night.

The Panthers got 85 yards rushing and three touchdowns from Calvin Ferguson to anchor the effort. Roosevelt Thompson added 115 yards and two touchdowns on eight rushes. Alphonzo Lewis ran for 78 yards and a touchdown. Curtis Autery caught three passes for 62 yards. Quandaris Ausbon completed 5 of 6 passes for 87 yards.

Ronald Bouler had 10 tackles and a sack for the Panther defense. Johnny Kennedy finished with eight tackles, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a sack. Devin Harris had five tackles while Autery finished with eight.

Marengo (7-3, 5-2) finishes as the No. 2 seed in Class 1A, Region 1 and will host the Highland Home Flying Squadron in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs Thursday night in Dixon’s Mills.

Hale County, Central-Tuscaloosa forfeit football wins

MONTGOMERY – Hale County High School has self-reported a violation of AHSAA eligibility rules resulting in the school being fined, placed on probation for one year and ordered to forfeit seven varsity football wins.

Hale County played an ineligible student in violation of the AHSAA Eight Semester Rule. The school must forfeit all contests its team won in which the student participated. Forfeits include Class 4A, Region 4 victories over Oak Grove, Holt, Bibb County, West Blocton,  Sipsey Valley and Greensboro high schools and one non-region win over Winfield. As a result of the forfeitures, Hale County will not qualify for the playoffs.  Bibb County is the Region 4 No. 1 seed. Northside is the No. 2 seed. The third and fourth playoff qualifier spots were decided by tie breaker (L) following tonight’s games. West Blocton is the third seed and Sipsey Valley is the fourth seed.

Central-Tuscaloosa High School has self-reported a violation of AHSAA eligibility rules resulting in the school being fined, placed on probation for one year and ordered to forfeit four varsity football wins.

Central played an ineligible student in violation of the AHSAA Overlapping School Zones Rule. The school must forfeit all contests its team won in which the student participated. Forfeits include Class 5A, Region 3 victories over Jemison, Sumter Central, Marbury and Dallas County high schools. As a result of the forfeitures, Central will not qualify for the playoffs.  Demopolis is the first qualifier, Calera is second and Marbury is third. The fourth qualifier will be decided by tie breaker (L) following tonight’s games. Tied for the fourth spot are Jemison, Dallas County and Sumter Central. All three finished 2-4 in region play.

Demopolis falls short in defensive struggle at Auburn

AUBURN – Demopolis came up on the short end of a defensive struggle in a 20-0 loss to Class 7A, No. 6 Auburn Friday night.

Neither team found success running the ball as the dueling Tigers tallied just 134 yards on the ground all night on a combined 66 rushing attempts.

“I thought our defense played extremely hard. They played a lot of snaps and they played extremely hard. They did a pretty good job stopping the run,” Demopolis coach Brian Seymore said. “They’re a pretty run-oriented offense and I thought we put them in some pretty tough situations and made them throw the football. I was proud of our kids and just the effort they gave the whole game.”

Auburn got the advantage that it would never forfeit with 2:55 remaining in the first quarter when Avery Atkins booted a 39-yard field goal for the 3-0 lead. Auburn found a hole in the Demopolis defense early in the second quarter when quarterback Alexander King hit Garrett Jones for a 53-yard strike that set up an 8-yard touchdown run by Jay Walker for the 10-0 lead.

Auburn added to the lead with a 42-yard Atkins field goal with 2.6 seconds left in the half.

“We didn’t do the things we normally do on offense. Credit to them. They’re a tremendous football team and they’re incredibly well coached. Credit goes to them,” Seymore said. “But we’ve got to go back and correct some things and keep working because we’ve got a huge game next week at home against Williamson.”

Jay Walker added the final touchdown with 11:46 to go for the 20-0 final. Demopolis continued to fight with its reserves in on defense in the fourth quarter, recovering a fumble to thwart an Auburn drive at the DHS 11. Derrick Birl and Joe Birl recorded sacks on back-to-back plays when King rolled out and looked to throw on the final Auburn possession.

“Like I told them, ‘Hey, we gotta keep playing guys.’ I was proud of our young guys going down there, causing a fumble, getting two sacks and some of their guys were frustrated,” Seymore said. “I was proud of our effort. You never want to lose, but I saw a lot of good things tonight.”

Auburn got 227 of its 301 total yards through the air. Demopolis finished with 104 yards passing and 60 rushing. The Tigers created a pair of turnovers, including a Rod Gaines interception. The loss snaps an eight-game win streak for Demopolis.

Demopolis is set to host Williamson Thursday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.

Demopolis first round playoff game set for Thursday, Nov. 9

9-22-2017 — Demopolis, Ala. — Demopolis RB A.J. Jackson (4) runs between the blocks of Matt Dollar (62) and Chris Williams (right) during the Tigers’ Homecoming win over the Calera Eagles.

Demopolis High School will play its first round playoff game on Thursday, Nov. 9 rather than the Friday night time slot that traditionally houses such tilts.

“I just think it’s an opportunity to get out there a little quicker and go out there and play,” Demopolis coach Brian Seymore said of the move. “Once you get through 10 weeks of football, I think our kids are eager to get out there again.”

The Thursday date will allow Demopolis to maintain more of a normal routine and avoid any of the complications that might accompany a Friday game given that Nov. 10 is a holiday for Demopolis High School.

“Both administrations talked and I thought it was a good fit with Friday being Veteran’s Day for us,” Seymore said. “I like to keep our kids in a routine. That was the main thing. The option they gave us to move to Thursday and we took advantage of it.”

Demopolis, the Class 5A, Region 3 champion, is set to play host to Class 5A, Region 1 No. 4 seed Williamson in the first round.

“They’re very athletic on both sides of the ball. They’ve got two Division I players that are both committed to South Alabama. They’ve got a lot of speed. They don’t have the depth I think. We’ll try to take advantage of the depth. They only have like 30 players with various kids playing both ways. They’re a very well coached team,” Seymore said of the Lions. “They’re very, very good defensively. We’ve given up 59 points, they’ve given up 58 points this year. They’ve got a quality defense.”

Sweet Water plunders Pirates for perfect Region 1 record

Sweet Water put it away early Friday, scoring four first-quarter touchdowns on the way to a 63-0 win over Fruitdale. Jacory Brown scored on a pair of 7-yard touchdown runs before Shamar Lewis got in on the fun with a 30-yard scoring run. Jaylon Williamson added a 38-yard touchdown sprint to put the Bulldogs up 26-0 after one quarter of play.

Sasha Smith returned an interception for a touchdown early in the second quarter. The onslaught continued with a 46-yard Lewis touchdown run before Jaland Lewis-Horton ran it in from 35 yards out for a 47-0 halftime lead.

Walker Thompson added a 2-yard touchdown run and Devonte Blanks a 4-yard scoring plunge in the fourth quarter.

The Bulldogs outgained the Pirated 412-43. Smith and JahDarius McIntosh each picked off a pass for the Sweet Water defense.

Sweet Water (7-1, 7-0) wraps up a perfect run through Class 1A, Region 1. The Bulldogs travel to New Brockton next week to cap the regular season.

Demopolis skunks Jemison to wrap Region 3 play

10-27-17 — Demopolis, Ala. — Demopolis RB A.J. Jackson stretches for the Tigers’ first touchdown of the night against Jemison.

Demopolis wrapped up an unbeaten Class 5A, Region 3 schedule Friday with a 48-7 victory over Jemison. The win marked the 26th consecutive region victory for Demopolis.

10-27-17 — Demopolis, Ala. — Demopolis’ Derrick Birl breaks up a pass against Jemison.

“I think that was the goal for all the kids. You definitely want to be the No. 1 seed and have the ability to host a first round playoff game, but I’m definitely glad for those seniors to be able to go unbeaten in region,” Demopolis coach Brian Seymore said.

Deompolis hung 20 points on the board in the first quarter of play. A.J. Jackson scored on a 12-yard touchdown run with 8:34 to go in the first quarter. Antonio Besteder later ran for an 8-yard score to stretch the lead to 13-0. On the final play of the opening quarter, Jackson ran for an 88-yard touchdown and moved the lead to 20-0.

DeDe Davis caught an 83-yard touchdown pass in the second before Besteder added a 24-yard scoring run. The Tigers led 34-0 at half.

Brandon Simmons turned a jailbreak screen into a 46-yard touchdown pass in the third. Davis added a 19-yard touchdown run to cap the Demopolis scoring and move the lead to 48-0.

Adrian Jackson scored on a 16-yard run with 3:01 left in the game to set the final margin.

Demopolis amassed 512 yards of total offense in the game. Jackson rushed 11 times for 164 yards. Besteder ran for 100 yards on 15 carries. Davis had 134 yards from scrimmage.

10-27-17 — Demopolis, Ala. — Demopolis’ Demetrius Davis breaks free on an 83-yard touchdown run against Jemison.

Jackson defeated Citronelle 31-0 in Class 5A, Region 1 Friday, setting Demopolis up with a first round playoff matchup against Williamson, who finishes as the No. 4 seed in Region 1.

“You always look a little further down the road for possible playoff matchups. I think that’s our mindset for our players and our coaches,” Seymore, whose team travels to Class 7A Auburn next week. “Williamson will be a very athletic team. Dedric Sumter is the head football coach there and he has done a tremendous job there. They have a lot of skilled athletes and they are very multiple on both sides of the ball. They’re very good on defense and they play an attacking style. I think our kids will be prepared and it’s a great opportunity for our program. We’ll put our focus on Auburn and look at that in a couple of weeks. The Auburn game has the opportunity to give us that same kind of atmosphere.”

10-27-17 — Demopolis, Ala. — Demopolis RB Antonio Besteder breaks free for a touchdown run against Jemison.

Marengo High dusts McIntosh for final Region 1 win

Marengo wrapped up Class 1A, Region 1 play Thursday night with a 52-0 road victory over McIntosh. The Panthers featured a balanced attack that saw six different offensive players score touchdowns in the game.

Calvin Ferguson rushed for 52 yards and a touchdown on only three carries. Phelix Hosea had a 10-yard touchdown run. Deldrick Bouler ran for 54 yards and two touchdowns on five rushes. Quindaris Ausbon completed 3 of 4 passes for 71 yards and three touchdowns. Curtis Autery caught a 10-yard touchdown pass. De’Angelos Crispin hauled in a 23-yard touchdown while Roosevelt Thompson caught a 30-yard scoring strike. Alphonzo Lewis ran for 40 yards on his lone carry.

Sophomore lineman Ronald Bouler shined on the defensive side of the ball, running roughshod over the Demon offensive line. Bouler finished with 10 tackles including four for loss, two sacks, a safety and a blocked punt.

Kevian Cade had five tackles including two for a loss. Daryl McItonsh had five tackles. Thompson had four tackles. Deldrick Bouler and Phillip Hosea each intercepted a pass.

Marengo (5-3, 4-2) is set to host Class 2A Southern Choctaw next Friday.

Tigers to feature throwback LU helmet decal for Homecoming

LIVINGSTON – West Alabama football will recognize the days of the only national title in school history and the winningest coach in program history by wearing the old “LU” logo on one side of its helmet for Saturday’s Homecoming game against West Florida.

The right side of the UWA red helmet will have the current Tiger Head logo and the left side will feature the LU, harkening back to the days (1967-95) when the institution was known as Livingston University.

The 1971 LU football team won the only national championship in school history, while Coach Frank North (1979-84) won 31 games to top the all-time Tiger coaching win list. A group of North’s former players and friends are gathering in his honor for a tailgate party behind Tiger Stadium Saturday at 2 p.m.

West Alabama sits atop the Gulf South Conference standings with a 5-1 league record (6-2 overall) and can clinch at least a share of the GSC championship with a win. West Florida is 5-2 overall and 3-2 in conference play.

Kickoff is set for 4:04 p.m.

This year’s Homecoming game will be televised/streamed on ESPN3, which includes WatchESPN and the ESPN app. ESPN3 is available to affiliated TV and high-speed internet service providers in the United States, on college campuses and on U.S. military bases.