Tigers bounced in second round

SPANISH FORT — Demopolis’ season came to a screeching halt Friday night as it battled injuries a game Toros squad en route to a 38-14 loss to Spanish Fort in the second round of the AHSAA Class 5A playoffs.

11-16-2012 — Spanish Fort, AL — Demopolis’ Tyler Merriweather recovers a Spanish Fort fumble during the first quarter of the Tigers’ second round playoff loss to the Toros. (Michael Clements/The West Alabama Watchman)

“They competed all year long. I’m proud of the way they competed, but we came up short,” Demopolis head coach Tom Causey said. “Our goal every year is to win a state championship and we fell short of that. There’s a lot of things that we can get better at in the offseason to get closer to that goal. We’ll go to work doing that.”

The Tigers came out of the gates hot when Tyler Merriweather recovered a fumble on the opening play from scrimmage. Five plays later, quarterback Tucker Jones went over left guard on an option keeper to put Demopolis on top with an early touchdown lead.The Tigers appeared to have forced a three-and-out when a personal foul penalty on a punt gave the Toros new life. Spanish Fort needed only one play to score when Joel Poe hit Devonte Patrick for a 62-yard touchdown pass. Alexander Theodore added the extra point to tie the game and Spanish Fort never looked back.

11-16-2012 — Spanish Fort, AL — Demopolis’ Tucker Jones scores the Tigers’ first touchdown of the night during the first quarter of the Tigers’ second round playoff loss to the Spanish Fort Toros. (Michael Clements/The West Alabama Watchman)

“Just stay with it. We figured adversity was going to hit and it hit early. And they converted like a good team is going to do,” Spanish Fort coach Mark Freeman said of the game’s opening sequence. “I don’t know what happened on the fumble. Adversity hits. We come back and we answer it. Then we come back when they score later in the game and we answered it. This time of year, you’ve got to answer.”

Demopolis managed only 23 yards of offense over the game’s next 22 minutes as Spanish Fort continued to hit big plays.

Sammy Tolbert added to the Spanish Fort lead on a 10-yard touchdown run with 5:18 to go in the first quarter.

Three plays later, Chason Milner recovered a fumble, setting up a drive that culminated with a seven-yard Tolbert scoring run. Blain Crain caught the two-point pass to put Spanish Fort up 21-7 with 3:14 left in the first quarter.

Spanish Fort added one more score in the second quarter when Tolbert punched it in again on a two-yard run to take a 28-7 lead to the half.

Demopolis finished the game’s opening two quarters without Jones and starting wide receiver Rodney Harper, who both went down to injury.

“It affects you in ways. But we’ve got players that go on this field that get coached up everyday and they’re prepared to play,” Causey said of the injuries. “Give Spanish Fort credit. Their guys made the plays at the times when they needed to make them. That’s the difference in the ballgame.”

Demopolis appeared ready to make a game of it in the third quarter when Roderick Davis scored on a three-yard run, cutting the deficit to 28-14.

11-16-2012 — Spanish Fort, AL — Demopolis’ Rodney Harper runs after a reception from Tyler Oates during the Tigers’ second round playoff loss to the Spanish Fort Toros. (Michael Clements/The West Alabama Watchman)

After a defensive stop, Demopolis again struggled to move the ball as Spanish Fort ultimately added to its lead on a 36-yard touchdown pass to Crain.

Theodore added a 22-yard field goal with 5:51 to go to ice the win. Tyler Johnston and Kylan Cotton added late interceptions while John Stockton recovered a fumble for the Toros.

Tolbert led all rushers with 15 carries for 109 yards and three scores. Edward Autry amassed 95 yards on 10 carries for the Toros.

Hollis Bright led Demopolis defensively with eight total tackles including a sack.

Causey was complementary of his seniors following the loss.

“I was truly proud of our senior class. I thought they did a really good job of stepping up this year,” Causey said. “I saw leadership come out of that group that hadn’t been there in the past. I’m really proud of the way they performed this year and I’m really proud of the way they performed in the locker room.”