NEXT UP: BIRMINGHAM Tigers win the dogfight

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 6, 2004

With 6:41 remaining in the second quarter, the Demopolis Tigers defense finally solved the UMS-Wright Bulldogs offense.

And from there on out, the Tigers had complete control.

Well, almost complete control.

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The game started off with high emotions, as Demopolis fans gathered in Mobile to cheer on their Tigers.

The scene was like something out of a movie as the Tigers finished their drills before meeting at the center of the football field for a pre-celebration of

a remarkable season.

And the Demopolis fans reaction made the Tigers feel right at home.

The key to the issue of figuring out the Bulldogs offense was attacking the line and forcing UMS to throw the football.

“The coaches just told us to keep our minds in the game and stay focused,” Dontrell Miller said. “I just had to keep playing with everything in front of me,

break on the ball, and tackle well.”

Defensive coordinator Freddy Lawrence’s plan worked to perfection.

After a scoring drought in the first quarter of action, the Tigers finally woke up.

“I just told them the first drive, they were just gassing us,” Lawrence said. “We were mixing it up and they were knocking us off the football, and after that drive, we reestablished the line of scrimmage. We got after it, and I’m very proud of every one of them.”

The Tigers began the game with possession, only to drive the ball to the 48-yard line before going three and out.

Devin Goodwin’s punt sailed to a stop at the 11-yard line, but the Bulldogs quickly drove down the field.

However, with UMS sitting in the red zone and threatening to score, Vincent Jackson came up with a huge interception in the endzone to give Demopolis

possession at the 20-yard line.

Then, what seemed to be for the first time all season long, a high snap resulted in UMS recovering the football at the 1-yard line.

And on the very next play for the Bulldogs, UMS star Milan Williams rushed in for the touchdown with 2:08 left in the first quarter.

After Andrew Friedman’s extra point attempt sailed through the uprights, UMS held onto a 7-0 lead.

But the Tigers were about to be unleashed, as Lawrence took his defensive unit and turned them into an unstoppable machine.

When UMS was forced to punt early in the second quarter, the Tigers offense looked like they would finally took advantage of their speed and quickness, but they were again forced to punt on a three and out.

But this time, the Tigers defense came to life, forcing a fumble on the Bulldogs very first play as Goodwin pounced on the loose ball to give the Tigers possession at the 24-yard line.

And what followed was an incredible drive that ended with seven points for Demopolis.

With the Tigers in the red zone and trying to enter the endzone for the first time all game, the Bulldogs defense stepped up as Demopolis sat on a fourth and goal from the four-yard line.

And head coach Doug Goodwin’s risky call paid off, as Devin Goodwin connected with Colby Roberts for the touchdown with 6:45 remaining in the first half.

As the Tigers defense took the field after the Demopolis scoring drive, they were pumped up – and it showed.

The Tigers defense quickly forced a three and out as the Bulldogs punted the pigskin and downed it at the 18-yard line.

But all the Tigers needed was one play. One big play.

On the very first play of the ensuing drive, Goodwin connected with a wide-open Roberts with the Bulldogs attempting to play man-to-man defense.

And as Roberts caught the football in stride, he quickly broke away from his defender and into the endzone for an 82-yard touchdown pass with 4:49 left

in the first half of play.

After the Tigers defense again forced the Bulldogs to punt the ball, UMS had been held without a first down for over 11 minutes.

At halftime, the Tigers entered the locker room with a 14-7 lead.

But things got scary for Demopolis fans, players, and coaches in the second half.

With 3:31 left in the third quarter, the Bulldogs pulled off a trick play when Allen Aubin tossed the pigskin to Brandon Gibson, who then connected with John Hayes for a touchdown pass.

And the trickery wasn’t over for the Bulldogs, as they lined up for the extra point attempt and successfully tossed the football to Patrick Hill as he dove into

the endzone for the two-point conversion and a 15-14 UMS lead.

But that was all the scoring the Bulldogs would be doing for the night.

With 9:41 remaining in the ball game, the Tigers eased the minds of fans and coaches when Goodwin connected with his favorite target of the night in Roberts for a 23-yard touchdown pass.

And what followed was a thing of beauty – the Tigers lined up for the two-point conversion with Demopolis and UMS fans standing to cheer on their teams.

Goodwin took the snap and calmly tossed the football to Dusty Gracie, who eased his way into the endzone successfully for a 22-15 Tigers lead.

But Demopolis wasn’t finished with the pesky Bulldogs.

With 6:17 remaining in the game, the Tigers sealed their fate to Birmingham when Goodwin connected with Chad Schroeder for a 34-yard touchdown pass.

As Goodwin’s extra point attempt sailed successfully through the uprights, Demopolis fans and coaches were holding back emotions – just waiting for the final buzzer to sound.

And before anyone knew it, the game clock ticked off its final seconds as the Tigers stormed the field in celebration.

“I’ll tell you one thing,” Ray Williams said. “We’ll be out of school early on Friday.”

This is true – with the win, the Tigers now advance to play Deschler at 7 p.m. on Friday in Birmingham.

And for the first time in Demopolis history, the Tigers are heading to a championship game.

“All we want is a chance,” Lawrence said. “We’ve almost had that chance for two years and this is our third year, and now we’re on our way to the championship game.”

The Demopolis team of destiny is just one game away from becoming 4A state champions.

The action begins on Friday night in Birmingham and the only thing standing in the Tigers way is a team by the name of Deschler.