Demopolis ground game grounds Calera

With help from William Douglas (55) and Drew Jones (34), Demopolis' Jay Craig (6) breaks into the open as Jamarcus Ezell (15) watches the play develop.

With help from William Douglas (55) and Drew Jones (34), Demopolis’ Jay Craig (6) breaks into the open as Jamarcus Ezell (15) watches the play develop.

Demopolis committed itself to running the football Friday night, amassing 406 yards on 59 carries en route to a 42-23 over ASWA No. 8 Calera.

“It’s big,” Demopolis coach Stacy Luker said of the win. “We’ve talked about making a statement here early in the year. We want people to know we’re on the map in 5A. That’s the main thing. But there’s a long way to go. There’s still a grind ahead of us. We know that. We’ve got to get to work though.”

Demopolis' A.J. Collier (21) puts the brakes on a Calera ball carrier as Russ Logan (43) moves in to assist.

Demopolis’ A.J. Collier (21) puts the brakes on a Calera ball carrier as Russ Logan (43) moves in to assist.

The Eagles struck early, marching 77 yards on the opening drive of the game and cashing in for points on a Kyle Harrell 46-yard sprint with 9:55 left in the frame.

Demopolis wasted little time formulating an answer as it responded with a seven-play drive that covered 63 yards and culminated with 19-yard dash from Jay Craig for his first of five touchdowns on the evening. The failed PAT left the score at 7-6.

The Eagles added to their lead with 10:21 to play in the second quarter when they got a 30-yard field goal from Zachary Ford to punctuate an eight-play drive that started on their own 41.

From there, Demopolis really went to work as it proceeded to grind out a 12-play drive that covered 78 yards and milked seven minutes off the game clock. Craig capped the possession with a 15-yard run to give the Tigers a 12-10 lead. Jamarcus Ezell then sprinted around the right side and added the conversion run for the 14-10 advantage.

The Tigers put a stranglehold on the lead when their defense took the field again as Logan McVay made a hit for a five-yard loss before A.J. Collier woke the home crowd up with a vicious hit on Calera’s intended second down receiver.

Demopolis' R.J. Cox (bottom) and Rahmeel Cook (44) stop a Calera ball carrier near the goal line.

Demopolis’ R.J. Cox (bottom) and Rahmeel Cook (44) stop a Calera ball carrier near the goal line.

“Changed the whole complexion of the game,” Luker said of the lick. “I thought we were a little flat early. I don’t know why, because we really had a good week of practice. But that changed the complexion of it.”

The three-and-out led to another Tiger score as Demopolis covered 58 yards in five plays, ending the effort with a 2-yard run from Craig.

The second half opened with more of the same for Demopolis as it assembled 14-play, 83-yard drive that sucked 6:53 off the game clock before Craig scored on a 29-yard run to up the lead to 28-10.

Calera answered quickly thereafter, covering 66 yards in seven plays and scoring on a 10-yard run from Jaramy Dozier to cut it to 28-17. The Eagle defense then forced a three-and-out and looked to get back in the game after giving its offense possession at its own 32.

Luker’s defense answered by limiting Calera to eight yards on four plays before Craig went to work again, scoring on a 25-yard run to stretch the advantage to 35-17.

“They made some adjustments with coverage and getting some more people in the box. They hurt us with a couple of big plays right down to the last one, but let’s don’t forget that fourth down stop at 28-17 because they had the momentum,” Luker said. “That was huge. That was a huge point in the game. I thought we played tough over there. That’s a good football team. They’re physical and fast.”

Demopolis tacked on one more score with 4:18 to play when Ezell broke a 46-yard run around the left side. Calera responded on its next snap when TyDerius Evans slung a ball over the top to Antonio Devinner for a 61-yard scoring strike.

Craig led the way with 212 yards and five touchdowns on 30 carries. Drew Jones added 92 yards on 10 carries.

Drew Jones breaks into the open against Calera.

Drew Jones breaks into the open against Calera.

“He’s physical. He made some physical runs, ran out of tackles. The offensive line, I thought, did a great job blocking and staying on blocks,” Luker said. “Drew Jones and Keishaun Scott leading up in there, getting their runs. It’s a three-headed monster. They’re going to get their touches and they’re physical, downhill guys.”

Equally as impressive to Luker was the Tigers’ total penalties: three for 15 yards and no infractions in the second half. Calera had an equally clean line with four penalties for 18 yards.

“Our penalties were motion penalties, all three of them. We had to clean that part up and we’ve addressed that with our kids. At least their conscious of it,” Luker said. “That’s the main thing.”

Russ Logan led the Demopolis defense with nine tackles and a forced fumble. McVay forced a fumble and blocked a kick. Erin White recovered a fumble.

Demopolis (2-0, 1-0) is set to travel to Jemison next week for another Class 5A, Region 4 matchup.

Demopolis' Jamarcus Ezell (15) gets tripped up by two Calera defenders.

Demopolis’ Jamarcus Ezell (15) gets tripped up by two Calera defenders.