Titan coach lights fire, gets results

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 4, 2004

DEMOPOLIS – If West Alabama Prep head football coach Bob Taylor was looking for answers from his Titans, he found them in bunches.

His Titans scored 15-second quarter points, and then held on to defeat the Marion Military Institute Tigers, 28-12.

“I challenged them at the end of the first quarter,” stated Taylor, referring to the 0-0 deadlock at that point.

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“Basically, I told them that either they play now, or practice tomorrow (Saturday).

I’m glad they chose to play now.”

If there was such a choice to be made, the answer was clear in the ensuing plays.

On a third-and-ten from the MMI 17, defensive ends Charlie Lee and Wesley White combined to sack quarterback Andrew Alexander on his own six-yard line.

Pressure by several Titans forced an errant punt, and WAP got possession of the football, first-and-ten, from the MMI 22-yard line.

On first down, Brock Halper followed his blocks by Aaron Hopper and Michael Bozeman down to the 13-yard line.

Two plays later, WAP quarterback Wesley Ballard faked a handoff to Halper, then bootlegged 13 yards for the game’s first score.

A razzle-dazzle two-point conversion pass from Daniel McDowell to Rollin Biggs put the Titans up 8-0 with 9:16 to go in the second quarter.

As they would prove time and again during the game, the MMI Tigers were not ready to give in without a fight.

Tailback Wes McElroy led the charge on their ensuing drive, running for 40 yards to give MMI a first down at the WAP 12-yard line.

MMI would get as close as the six-yard line, before being turned away by the Titan defense, pushing MMI back to the 12 and forcing a turnover-on-downs.

The stand seemed to energize the Titans, and their Homecoming fans, even more.

On first down, Halper carried the ball out from the shadows with a 14-yard run to the 26.

Then Ballard struck again.

This time, Ballard bootlegged 74 yards for the TD.

McDowell added the PAT, and the Titans led MMI 15-0 through the end of the first half.

With such a lead, WAP’s Homecoming Queen Samantha Sullivan probably felt pretty good about her Titans’ chances for victory.

MMI’s Jovaris Smith, however, had different ideas.

He returned the second half kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown.

Later in the third quarter, things got a little closer as Tiger quarterback Andrew Alexander found Kendrick Moore for a 13-yard TD pass.

With 3:27 remaining in the third quarter, the Titans held a slim, 15-12 lead.

Once again, it was the Titan defense that got the ship righted.

After forcing a punt from the MMI 23-yard line, WAP’s punt rush forced MMI’s punter to scramble before being tackled for a five-yard loss.

Four plays later, Ballard found paydirt for the third time in the game on a two-yard run.

The PAT failed, but the Titans had forced a two-possession ballgame, leading 21-12 with nine minutes remaining.

As desperation gripped the Tiger offense, freshman WAP defensive back Matt Ballard intercepted an Alexander pass and raced 70 yards for the game’s proverbial icing-on-the-cake.

McDowell’s kick was ruled successful, and the Titans tasted sweet Homecoming victory, leading 28-12, with 1:21 remaining.

“I’m proud of how they responded, stated Coach Taylor.

“I thought we got outstanding leadership from our seniors tonight.

I especially proud of them getting this win at Homecoming.”

Wesley Ballard led the Titans with 111 yards on 15 carries and 3 TD’s, while Halper added 104 yards on 19 carries.

Halper also added two interceptions to his team-high total.

The win improves WAP’s record to 3-2 overall, 2-1 in 1A West area play.

Next week, they travel to Greensboro to face the undefeated Southern Academy Cougars.