WAP Titans get playoff berth despite loss to SA
Behind a 21-point fourth quarter, the Sumter Academy Eagles defeated the West Alabama Prep Titans 35-21 in York Friday night.
Despite the regular-season loss, the Titans made the playoffs and will travel to Jackson Academy in the first round.
After fighting to a 14-14 tie through three quarters, the fans anticipated a climactic end to the regular season.
Sumter Academy struck first with 11:06 remaining, as Andrew Poole scored on a four-yard run.
The PAT failed, but Sumter held a 20-14 lead.
Disaster struck the Titans on their next possession, as a fumbled exchange gave Sumter the football back on the WAP 46-yard line.
The Eagles wasted little time tacking on another score.
On their fifth play from scrimmage, Poole ran over the right side of the SA line, broke left, and raced 31 yards for the touchdown.
Chad Bryan added the two-point conversion, and SA led 28-14 with 7:47 left in the ballgame.
Just when the Eagle fans were beginning to relax a little, the Titans came storming back.
On first down from the WAP 47, quarterback Kevin May completed a 37-yard pass to Tony Reed, giving the Titans a first down at the SA 16-yard line.
Runs by Devon Norman moved the football inside the five-yard line, and Joe Magro finished off the drive with a three-yard TD run.
Magro then added the PAT.
Trailing by a score of 21-28 with 5:28 remaining, WAP coach Webb Tutt elected to attempt an on-sides kick.
Magro’s kick was a beauty as the ball was kicked just behind the up-backs and near the sidelines.
WAP senior Shawn Singleton was the first to get to the ball, giving the Titans new life at the SA 39-yard line.
After getting a first down to the 27-yard line, a holding penalty push the Titans back to the 33.
With 17 yards to go for a first down, WAP decided to go to the air.
However, three straight incomplete passes ended their hopes for a game-tying score.
Sumter Academy kept the ball on the ground, running out the clock on the Titans’ comeback hopes.
In the process, Poole added his third TD of the fourth quarter with 36 seconds remaining.
His five-yard run and Al Derby’s PAT gave Sumter the winning margin of 35-21.
During his post-game press conference, WAP coach Webb Tutt felt mixed emotions.
Number two for SA was junior runningback Chad Bryan.
Bryan carried for 224 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns.
Poole added 141 yards rushing to his three touchdowns.
The game began ominously enough for the Titans as Bryan scored his first touchdown on a 60-yard run with 7:16 showing in the first quarter.
While both teams threatened multiple times inside each others’ territory, each managed to bend-but-not-break throughout the remainder of the first half, and the half ended with a 7-0 SA lead.
The shootout began midway through the third quarter.
With 7:47 remaining, Joe Magro tied the game with a two-yard touchdown run.
Sumter drove right back against the Titans, as Bryan scored on a 15-yard run with 2:29 left.
Two plays later, WAP answered emphatically.
Kevin May hit Tony Reed on a hitch-and-go route.
The play was good for 49 yards and a Titan touchdown.
Magro’s extra point tied the game at 14-14, setting up the dramatic fourth quarter.
Tony Reed amassed 167 all-purpose yards on the night (66 rushing, 101 receiving), leading the Titans offensively.
Devon Norman led the rushing attack with 91 yards on 21 carries.
Defensively, senior Chad Seale turned in an outstanding performance with 16 tackles on the night.
On the most positive note of the night for Titan football fans, the Chargers of Cornerstone Christian defeated the Coosa Valley Rebels, thus allowing the Titans (4-6, 3-3) their first playoff berth since 1997.
The Jackson Academy Eagles await the Titans for the first-round match-up next Friday night.