Let the countdown begin.
The Sweet Water Bulldogs and American Christian Patriots each won a rare Saturday game over the weekend to remain undefeated in regional play, setting up their contest this Friday as one of the most hotly anticipated high school football games in Alabama this year.
The Bulldogs, ranked third in last week’s Alabama Sports Writers Association Poll behind only Wadley and ACA, exploded to a 36-0 first-quarter lead and never looked back in a 57-6 pasting of homestanding Carrollton. Dominic Holt and Anthony Landrum scored rushing touchdowns from 13 and 12 yards, respectively, within 32 seconds of each other to give Sweet Water a 12-0 lead with 9:35 still to play in the first. Travion Lockett then scored on a 16-yard run and a safety, sacking the Indian QB in the end zone for a 22-point lead.
Lockett’s scores were followed by a 19-yard Landrum touchdown run and a 2-yard scoring plunge by Holt to put the Bulldogs up 36-0 after one quarter. A Deon Williams touchdown pass to Landrum and an 8-yard Holt run gave Sweet Water a 49-0 halftime lead. A 44-yard third-quarter touchdown by eighth-grader Johnny Lockett and another safety gave Sweet Water their final total of 57.
Sweet Water’s ball-carriers finished with 214 yards on 32 carries for the day, an average of 6.7 yards-per-rush. Landrum led the way with 83 yards on 6 carries, followed by Holt’s 8 for 43, Travion Lockett’s 4 for 31, and Johnny Lockett’s 3 for 46.
The Sweet Water defense was just as dominant as the offense, holding Carrollton to negative-2 yards total for the game. The Indians gained 12 yards passing but minus-14 rushing on 26 carries. The average Carrollton carry lost more than half a yard.
Things went much tougher for second-ranked American Christian against another group of Patriots, these the home team in Linden Saturday night. Linden scored a first-quarter touchdown and trailed by a count of only 13-6 at halftime. Fullback Maurice Tate rumbled for a XX-yard score in the XXXX to close the gap to XX-XX. But Linden could get no closer despite harassing All-State quarterback Chris Smelley into completing only 12 of his 25 passes, more than seven points below his season-long completion percentage of 55.8 percent.
But those 12 completions went for 245 yards and four touchdowns and Linden could not pick Smelley off, leading ACA to a 35-12 victory.
“Linden is a good football team, very physical and big and athletic,” ACA coach Stephen Hooks told the Tuscaloosa News. “We had trouble running the ball straight at them.”
With the ACA loss, their third in four games after a 3-0 start, Linden falls to 2-3 in Region 4 play and will need to defeat both Carrollton and A.L. Johnson on the road the next two Fridays to qualify for the playoffs.
Sweet Water improves to 6-1 overall and 5-0 in regional play, while ACA is a perfect 7-0, 5-0. The games were played on Saturday in order to accommodate Pickens Academy (in Carrollton) and Marengo Academy (in Linden) who share the fields with the Indians and Patriots, respectively.
More on the Sweet Water vs. ACA contest will be available in Thursday’s Demopolis Times as part of the Times’ “Game of the Week” and “Player of the Week” features.
Other area scores reported late last Friday:
Greene County 44, Livingston 20
The Tigers kept their playoff hopes alive and moved into a four-way tie for third in 4A Region 4 with another victory at home, where the Tigers defeated Greensboro and came within eight of 6-1 Jemison earlier this season. Quinton McElroy and Jessie Scott rushed for two touchdowns apiece to overcome scores by the Cougars’ Derrick Lee and Dominique Childs. GCHS is now 2-4 overall and 2-3 in region, while Livingston slips to 2-5, 1-4.
Marengo 21, Fruitdale 7
Marengo ended a two-game losing streak and solidified their playoff standing with a road win over Fruitdale. The Panthers moved to 4-1 in regional play and remain tied for the top spot in 1A Region 1. This week Marengo, now 4-3 overall, will host co-region leader Millry.
Pickens Academy 46, Sumter Academy 6
Joseph Reed scored the Eagles’ only points as Sumter finished a brief two-game spell on the road and outside of regional play. The Eagles return to York this week to face no. 9 Shelby Academy, with a win in either the Shelby game or the following week against East Memorial clinching a playoff berth. The loss to Pickens dropped Sumter to 3-4 on the season.
Midfield 38, Sumter County 14
The Wildcats fell to 1-6 on the season and 1-4 in 3A Region 3 play with a home loss to Midfield, second in the region with a 4-1 record. The schedule eases up from here for Sumter County, who will play Francis Marion, Central-Hayneville, and Livingston (combined record: 4-17) to close out the season.
Clarke Prep 53, MMI 14
The 2A defending champion Gators made quick work of the 1A Tigers, who could not build on their first victory of the season the previous week and fell to 1-6 on the season under first-year coach Lamar Frith. This week MMI gets a week off before returning Oct. 21 against regional rival Central.
Francis Marion 14, Central-Hayneville 12
The Rams went on the road and broke a five-game losing streak, notching their first victory since a season-opening 36-20 win over Sunshine and their first win in regional play. FMHS moved to 2-5, 1-4 while Hayneville remained winless. The Rams will play host to Sumter County this Friday.