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DHS rolls past Sumter County 38-0

Demopolis’s running game? Solid as a Rock.

Starting DHS senior tailback Rod “Rock” Jones rumbled for 140 yards and three touchdowns on only12 carries as the Tigers wore down a stubborn Sumter County Wildcat team Friday night, pulling away for a decisive 38-0 win.

Jones showed he could catch the ball as well on the game’s biggest play, an 18-yard touchdown catch just before halftime. Sumter had hung tough with the defending 4A champions throughout the first half and trailed only 8-0 with under a minute left in the second quarter when wideout Dwiuan White took the ball on an end around and took it 19 yards to the Sumter 18. On the next play Dontrell Miller found Jones wide open in the left flat and the senior broke several tackles on his way to the end zone.

The play gave DHS a 14-0 lead and the momentum going into halftime before two more Jones TDs in the third quarter put the game away. After Giorgio Griffin recovered a fumbled punt on the Wildcat 11, a Jones TD was called back on a holding penalty. But Jones would not be denied, scoring from 15 yards out on the next play anyway.

A 15-yard Miller scramble set Demopolis up at the Wildcat 26 on the Tigers’ next possession, and Jones scored again to give DHS a comfortable 26-0 lead.

DHS had taken an early lead with their first possession of the game. After giving up one first down on a Pierre Johnson run before forcing the Wildcats’ first punt, DHS took over on their own 36 and drove 64 yards in nine plays. The big play was a Jones conversion of fourth-and-1 at midfield, and two major penalties against the Wildcats put Miller into position to dart in from 18 yards out.

The Sumter defense would tighten, however, forcing Demopolis to turn the ball over on downs and fumble the ball away on their next two possessions. And with surprise quarterback starter Larry Foster at the helm, Sumter drove as deep as the DHS 29 in the second quarter before penalties pushed them outside of scoring position.

But until the final minute of play, that was as close as the Wildcats would come. Linebacker Ezell Braxton had a big game with a pair of sacks and several tackles for loss, and safety Willie Blount added several big hits late as Sumter took to the air with new QB Cordarrin Wilson.

DHS extended their lead in the fourth quarter behind more rugged running from Jones and junior tailback Lucious Haywood. Jones scored his fourth TD of the night from 26 yards out, and with less than five minutes to play Haywood covered 84 yards in two plays, the second a 63-yard dash around left end, to provide the final margin.

The Tigers’ running success can be attributed in part to the return of fullback Jacob Smelley, who had missed DHS’s jamboree game against Thomasville with a neck injury.

Sumter County looked to have ruined DHS’s shutout with 30 seconds remaining when Foster caught a Wilson pass along the right sideline and juked his way free from a pack of DHS defenders. But with nothing but open space in front of him, Foster lost the ball untouched and the tigers recovered to preserve the shutout.

The shutout is the second for DHS over the Wildcats in two seasons, after last year’s 62-0 win in Demopolis.

Demopolis will host Bibb County next Friday in the home opener of the 2005 season.