Demopolis drops Central-Clay to move to quarterfinals

11-17-17 — Demopolis, Ala. — Demopolis’ Malaki Simpson hits a field goal from the hold of Andrew Patterson to give the Tigers their first points in their victory over Clay Central.

11-17-17 — Demopolis, Ala. — Demopolis’ Demetrius Davis (1) celebrates with Malaki Simpson (89) after Simpson hit a field goal to give the Tigers their first points of the game in their victory over Clay Central.

Demopolis relied on its defense at virtually every turn Friday night to frustrate Central-Clay County and punch its ticket to the Class 5A quarterfinals. Demopolis downed the Volunteers 17-6 to set up a third round date with Vigor High next week.

The Tigers found themselves with their backs proverbially against the wall early as the Volunteers had the ball on the Demopolis 1. As Cameron Peoples went over the top for an attempted touchdown, the Tigers knocked the ball out and Derrick Birl pounced on it, staving the threat.

“It was huge. I think we lost our leverage a couple of times early. They got a big run early,” Demopolis coach Brian Seymore said. “Our kids got a little penetration right there. I think Fred actually got his hand on the ball and knocked it loose. We got a fumble recovery right there and that got our defense loosened up. Huge play. Probably the play of the game.”

The Volunteers scarcely threatened again. Demopolis found some offensive mojo in the second quarter when Andrew Patterson found Tyquan Alston for a 31-yard gain to help set up a 25-yard field goal by Malaki Simpson, the first of the freshman kicker’s career.

“I saw him in warmups and he was hitting the ball real well,” Seymore said. “For him to step up and knock that thing through showed a lot of character on his part. We needed some points.”

The Tigers found the end zone for the first time on a remarkable catch and run from A.J. Jackson with 2:10 remaining in the first half. The senior tailback hauled in a screen pass and reversed field multiple times to complete the 59-yard touchdown play and put the Tigers up 10-0.

11-17-17 — Demopolis, Ala. — Demopolis’ A.J. Jackson breaks free on a touchdown run in the first half of the Tigers’ victory over Clay Central.

“(Offensive coordinator Matt) Mellown and the offensive staff made a good call right there,” Seymore said. “When you get a good athlete like A.J. in the open field, he has the ability to make a lot of people miss and also has the ability to outrun people.”

Demopolis broke it open early in the fourth quarter when Patterson threw over the top down the left side and dropped it right into the arms of Alston, who sprinted the rest of the way to complete a 90-yard touchdown strike.

“I caught it. I almost went out of bounds. When I caught it, all I could remember was ‘Don’t get caught. Don’t get caught.’ It has happened every time,” Alston, who got his first career touchdown on the play, said in allusion to the multiple plays this season where he has been drug down just feet from the goal line. “I was looking back trying to make sure I didn’t get caught.”

“We give him a lot of crap about getting caught. We call him slow and everything,” Patterson joked. “But he was not getting caught tonight. He turned on those jets and he was gone.”

The play effectively put the game out of reach for Central-Clay.

“It started with the protection. Patty threw a strike. He hit him right in the numbers right there,” Seyomre said. “Tyquan looked it in. He just turned on the jets and tight-roped the sideline right there. That was probably the nail in the coffin right there.”

Alston finished with three receptions for 132 yards. Patterson finished 10 of 19 for 241 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

The Tigers (10-2) travel to Prichard next week to face Vigor in the third round.

11-17-17 — Demopolis, Ala. — Demopolis’ Keionte Whitfield (88) and Alexander Besteder (3) wrap up a Volunteer runner as Derrick Birl (24) closes in during the Tigers’ victory over Clay Central.

11-17-17 — Demopolis, Ala. — Demopolis’ Tyquan Alston secures a pass that he would turn into a touchdown during the Tigers’ victory over Clay Central.