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Demopolis routs Southside, 35-0

John Gullion / Managing editor

SELMA-For those hoping the Demopolis Tigers won’t repeat as state champions, there’s good news and bad news.

For three quarters Friday night on the road at Southside-Selma, the Demopolis Tigers looked human as they held on to a 14-0 lead. Then, the Tigers roared and finished off the Panthers with a 21-point fourth quarter with the defending state champs knocking on the door for another score.

Despite walking away with the 35-0 win and a 5-0 record, Tigers coach Doug Goodwin said his team hasn’t played its best football, yet.

“We ain’t there yet,” Goodwin said.

Despite the relatively close score, the Tigers seemed to have the game under their thumb from the start.

After stopping the Panthers opening drive, the Tigers set the tone for the night, hammering away with running back Rod Jones.

“I felt like we could run the ball,” Goodwin said. “I wanted to run the ball in the first half.”

And they did.

Jones finished with 180 yards and two touchdowns on a workman-like 26 carries. In all, the Tigers amassed 310 yards on the ground and a total of 532 yards.

Quarterback Dontrell Miller added 222 yards in the air, two touchdowns and an interception on 10 of 23 passing, but it was receiver Dwivan White who did the dirty work. Twice, White took a short pass, and parted the Panthers defense for long touchdowns.

He scored on plays of 80 and 77 yards.

“White made two great plays,” Goodwin said.

Still, not everything came up the Tigers’ way.

The Tigers were flagged 15 times for 135 yards, twice for unsportsmanlike contact. In addition, the Tigers passing game wasn’t quite up to its usual caliber. Goodwin said the team dropped at least a trio of touchdown passes.

“It’s a tough place to play,” he said. “We always talk about bad things are going to happen. All we can try to do is win the next play.”

When the Tigers defense was on the field, the almost always won the next play.

Demopolis limited Southside to 89 total yards of offense and forced the Panthers to go to the air.

Though both quarterbacks, Jeffery Anderson and Travis Shine made some plays from the shotgun, both running and throwing, the Tigers defense was too strong.

‘We played pretty good, stuff the run and made them throw almost every down,” Goodwin said. “We wanted to make them throw the football.

The Southside quarterbacks combined for 61 yards and four interceptions on 6 of 19 passing. On the ground, Southside had 23 carries for 28 yards.

For the Demopolis defense, Willie Gracey had a pair of picks.

Giorgio Griffin and Jacob Smelley added an interception each. Justin Jackson recovered a fumble for the Tigers.

Demopolis opened the game with a kickoff out of bounds, giving the Panthers good field position. Goodwin said kickoffs and kickoff coverage were problems all night.

“We’re over pursuing on our kicks,” Goodwin said. “As much as we kick off, you’d think we’d be better at it.’

After a 5-yard penalty to open the game, Brian Taylor ripped off seven yards for the Panthers. A stuffed pitch set up third down but a roughing the passer penalty gave the Panthers life inside Demopolis territory.

Jeffery Anderson hit Travis Shine for 8 yards to the Demopolis 41.

The Panthers converted on a fourth and two, but the drive stalled and Gracey made his first interception of the night on a fourth and long play.

Starting at their own 19, the Tigers came out intent on punishing the Panthers front line.

Rod Jones got his number called time and again and the Tigers methodically marched up field.

The drive ended with a 6-yard TD from Jones.

He carried 13 times for 53 yards on the drive.

After a Southside punt, Demopolis appeared to be lining up for more of the same, but with Calvin Bryant taking his share of the carries.

Then, on third and 11 at midfield, a Miller pass bounced off the hands of the intended receiver and right to Southside’s Robert Tyus. Tyus raced up the home sideline 60 yards and was caught at the Tigers’ 8-yard line.

Anderson, now lining up at tailback, ran for two.

But as he bulled for extra yardage on the next play, lost the football and Demopolis’ Justin Jackson came up with the football.

A 30-yard scamper from Jones got Demopolis out of the shadow of their own end zone, but a flag and an incompletion helped kill the drive.

The score stayed at 7-0 until late in the first half.

A Southside punt with under two minutes to play set Demopolis up at their own 20. Miller flipped a short pass to White, who broke some tackles and turned up field.

Still shedding would-be tacklers, he broke up the home sideline, twisting free again around the Southside 40 as the final two defenders were unable to bring him down.

With 1:28 left, Justin Davis’ extra point made it 14-0.

Davis was perfect on the night, going 5 of 5 on PAT’s.

The teams went to the half at 14-0 and stayed even through a mistake-filled third quarter.

The fourth quarter however, belonged to Demopolis.

After Smelley picked Travis Shine off and returned the ball to near midfield, Jones broke free for his second TD run of the night.

He hit a gap in the middle of the line, broke right and was gone to the house on a 49-yard TD romp with 7:09 left.

Exactly a minute later, Demopolis was back in the end zone.

After a Southside drive stalled at the Demopolis 27, Miller again turned to White.

He hit the big man over the middle and White turned up field. With the help of a crushing block from Gracey, White raced 73 yards for the score and the 38-0 lead with 6:09 left.

Just over a minute later, Demopolis was in the end zone again.

Gracey picked off Anderson near midfield and returned it all the way to the Southside 13.

Calvin Bryant crossed the goal line on the next play and with 5:03 left, the lead was 35-0.

Demopolis got the ball back and drove inside the Southside 10, but the Tigers let the clock run out and walked away with the 35-0 win.

The Tigers play at Greensboro next week while Southside will host Dallas County.