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Top of the Heap: Tigers nail 4A title to the wall

HOOVER – The Demopolis High School Tigers slammed the door on their perfect state championship season by pulling away from Deshler 35-21. The win gave the Tigers their first state championship in school history and they did it in a big way.

No matter what the Deshler defense served up the Tigers seemed to have an answer. Tiger quarterback and game MVP Devin Goodwin, picked the Deshler defense apart for 257 passing yards in the game.

While Goodwin found a lot of success on the night his father said this was no easy task.

“It has been tough,” Tiger head coach Doug Goodwin said. “We had a tough road to get here. I am just proud of our guys and what they have done.”

There were plenty of times where it appeared as if Deshler would make a run. The Tigers were able to keep their composure each time and send them away.

“They fought hard and beat a good football team here tonight,” Goodwin said. “Deshler has a great team and a great coaching staff. Our hats off to them.”

Defense dominated in the first quarter as neither team could find their rhythm. The second quarter would be a completely different story. The two teams went on a run of 28 points in a little under six minutes.

Demopolis created most of the fireworks as they found the end zone early and often before the half.

After taking over on their own 10 yard line the Tigers began what would prove to be a record breaking drive. 11 plays into the march Tiger quarterback Devin Goodwin found Dusty Gracie on a flair route. Gracie did the rest as he rambled 53 yards for the longest score in Class 4-A state championship game history. Goodwin added the extra point to make the lead 7-0 Tigers early in the second quarter.

Dontrell Miller would set up and deliver the Tigers next touchdown. Miller got between a Deshler receiver and the ball to give the Tigers the ball on their own 48. Demopolis looked to be stopped on fourth and 10, however a gutsy call by Goodwin to fake a punt turned out to be a great decision. Devin Goodwin, the Tiger punter connected with Bart Pettus for the first down.

Two plays later Miller made the interception count as he showed some nifty moves on his way to a 23 yard touchdown reception. The PAT was good again and The Tigers led 14-0.

Deshler answered right back as Martez Cole found a hole in the Tiger kickoff team. Cole sprinted 84 yards to put the Tigers on the board. The extra point was good making the score 14-7.

Demopolis was not shaken. The Tigers took the next drive 70 yards in only three plays to up the lead to 14. The drive was highlighted by a Chad Schroeder scamper on a counter play for 50 yards when he seemed to be hemmed up. Rod Jones went up the middle on the next play from 11 yards out and the Goodwin PAT that followed left the Tigers with a 21-7 halftime lead.

Deshler struck first in the second half as they pinned the Tigers deep forcing themselves into good field position. The Tigers got the ball on their own 49 and rolled from there. Brandon Moore capitalized for Deshler scoring from nine yards out. The extra point from Jared Henry was good and Deshler was left only seven points down 21-14.

Ezell Braxton helped to jump start the Tiger offense with a fumble recovery at the Deshler 22 yard line with two minutes remaining in the third. The big fumble recovery kept the Tigers from being shut out in the third and kept the lead at a safer distance going into the final stanza.

On a third and long play Goodwin turned the turnover into points as he found Colby Roberts in the corner of the end zone for the score. The PAT was good again and the Tigers had a 28-14 lead heading for the homestretch.

Deshler was not ready to quit. The Tigers opened up the fourth quarter going 65 yards to score again. It looked as Demopolis had them right where they wanted them on a fourth and one play at the Demopolis 18. However, Deshler turned fourth and one into an 18 yard scoring run from Darius Fuqua. With the addition of the extra point the score was 35-21 Demopolis.

Demopolis did not take any time to sulk. Instead Goodwin and Gracie broke the record they had earlier set with a 64 yard strike on the same play as before. Goodwin added the PAT and with 10:06 left the Tigers began to

feel a championship coming.

Jacob Smelly came through with a big fourth and long stop for the Tigers to all but seal the win and the trophy.

Smelley and defensive tackle Ray Williams always seemed to be around the ball. Williams said they knew coming in they had to be ready for the Deshler backs.

“We came into the game knowing they had some great backs,” Williams said. “The first thing we did was respond to the running game.”

The Tigers capped a 15-0 perfect season with the win and now get the chance to relax and wait for their rings.