Southern cruises to second straight state title

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 21, 2005

TROY-The Autauga Academy football coaches will likely see Wallace Drury in their nightmares for some time. The senior running back rushed for a state championship[ AISA record 417 yards on 46 rushes and eight touchdowns to help the Southern Academy Cougars claim a 55-22 win for the Class A State Championship.

Cougar Coach Shaun Bonds said Drury’s running was the difference in the game, as it has been all year.

“Wallace makes so many tough runs and they feed off it,” Bonds said. “The more he runs, the better they block and that helped us really take control of the line of scrimmage.”

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Drury and the Cougars got off to a rocky start as they swapped possessions with the Generals. However, late in the first quarter a strong defensive stand set the Cougars up at the General 46 yard line. Drury needed only one play to go the distance and put the Cougars on top 6-0 with 3:13 to go in the first period.Andy Wheller added the extra point to make it a 7-0 game.

Autauga didn’t give them time to get comfortable as Idarious Bennet took the following kickoff 78 yards for another score. Bennet also hauled in a pass from quarterback Jesse Dailey to give the Generals an 8-7 lead.

The Cougars would not find the endzone again until the second quarter. A bobled snap by Autauga’s punter allowed the Southern defense to put up a big stop and take the ball at the General 9 yard line. Three plays later it was Drury again finding paydirt for a 1 yard touchdown run. The extra point failed leaving Southern with a slim 13-8 lead.

Again, the Generals stormed back. After grinding out five plays Dailey found Bryan Weight behind the Cougar defensive backs for a quick 47 yard touchdown pass to reclaim a 14-13 lead. Dailey fired another pass to Bennet to up the lead to 16-13.

Bonds said the effieciency of the Generals through the air caught his squad off guard.

“They were a l;ittle bit better at throwing the ball than I thought they were,” Bonds said. “I knew they could throw the football, but they really did a good job.”

This was the last lead the Generals would have. Drury again pounded away at the General defense capping a seven play 61 yard drive with an 8 yard score to make it 19-16 with only 1:46 remaining in the half. The extra point was good giving the Cougars a 20-16 halftime lead.

Things would change drastically in the second half. The third and fourth quarters, Bonds said came down to conditioning, something the Cougars stress heavily.

“We have been one of the better conditioned teams all year,” Bonds said. “We do a lot of weight lifting and a lot of running and it paid off for us.”

The hard work showed as Southern stormed out of the gate and drove down the field on their first three possessions. Unfortunately, the first two ended with turnovers deep in Autauga territory.

However, the third would not. With 1:29 remaining in the quarter Drury struck again capping an eight play 70 yard drive with a 5 yard plunge. Again, the extra point was good giving the Cougars a 27-16 lead.

In the fourth quarter the Cougar offensive line went to work on the Autauga defense. The Cougar front consistantly moved the General defense off the line, which is something Bonds said they have done all year.

“Our offensive line has been tremendous all year,” Bonds said. “They have knocked people off the ball all year long and they did it again tonight.”

On their first possession the Cougars marched down the field for an 8 play 65 yard drive ending with a Drury 2 yard run. The extra point was good again and the Cougars had breathing romm at 34-16.

But Autauga was not ready to lay down. The General passing attack caught fire again as Dailey found Bennet for a 63 yard score. The two point conversion failed leaving the score 34-22 with 9:10 remaining in the game.

From there, the Cougars officially took control. Drury scored on runs of 57, 47 and 46 yards to up the lead to 55-22.

The final score came with 27 seconds remaining, which is a call Bonds did not intentionally make.

“I felt bad about that last score because I am not that kind of coach,” Bonds said. “The seniors were begging me to let them play that last series so I put in all the seniors. I wanted them to run it, but I didn’t want them to score.”

With the win, the Cougars added one more to their 25 game winning streak. Southern ended the season 13-0.