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DHS on the losing end of controversial ending

FAYETTE — Demopolis fell 20-14 Friday night in a game that turned intense early and had all the bitter feelings of a street fight by night’s end.

Demopolis took over at its own 39-yard line after the opening kick and quickly showed signs of life as quarterback Rick Boone hit senior receiver Alan Brooker on a 5-yard pass play that opened an eight-play drive that covered 36 yards before stalling on the Fayette 25-yard line.

The first of a handful of calls that drew objection from the Demopolis sideline came on that drive when a long run by Anthony Hardy was negated by a holding call.

Two plays after turning the ball over on downs, senior Jacob Kerby forced a fumble in the backfield, handing the ball back to the visiting Tigers.

On the sixth play of the ensuing drive, Hardy carried the ball to the one-yard line on a run that was again nullified by a holding call that backed the ball up to the 17-yard line. The drive once again sputtered before ending in a missed field goal.

After the Demopolis defense forced an apparent three-and-out on Fayette’s second possession, a roughing the kicker call during the punt attempt advanced the home team to its own 44-yard line with a fresh set of downs. On the very next play, running back Tim Walker took a short pass and shook a string of potential tacklers on his way to a 56-yard touchdown run. The point after handed Fayette the 7-0 lead.

Hardy took the obligatory kickoff inside the five-yard line and advanced the ball to his own 40, setting the Tigers up with what appeared to be good field position. However, another holding call against Demopolis moved the ball back to the 18-yard line.

Demopolis then utilized three plays and a personal foul penalty against Fayette to cover 82 yards on its way to evening the score in a drive that culminated with a 57-yard touchdown run by DaMarcus James.

After forcing a three-and-out again, Demopolis took over at its own 18 following a 62-yard Fayette punt. The visiting Tigers then engineered a 13-play, 82-yard drive that saw James punch the ball into the end zone on a 4-yard plunge, handing Demopolis its first lead of the night.

Demopolis took possession of the ball on two other occasions in the first half, watching Kerby punt both away after three plays.

Fayette began its final drive of the half at the 50-yard line following a Kerby punt. On the first play, the team broke a 50-yard touchdown pass that was waived off after a holding penalty that moved the ball back to the 43-yard line. One play later, the home Tigers hoisted the ball in a desperation heave that caromed off the hands of a Demopolis defensive back and into the waiting arms of receiver Colton Billups who stood in the end zone with no time remaining on the clock. The extra point knotted the game at 14.

Neither team could construct a drive for much of the third quarter. Fayette’s final attempt of the quarter saw Demopolis senior linebacker Greg Irvin knock the ball loose on a play over the middle. After a pileup, junior lineman Tremaine Sanders emerged with the ball. The Demopolis sidelined rejoiced momentarily before being informed Fayette retained possession of the ball.

“White hat said the guy on Fayette’s boundary said the forward progress was stopped but he never blew the whistle,” DHS head coach Tom Causey said of the ruling he received from the officials following the play.

Demopolis took a timeout to discuss the play with the officiating crew. During the break, the offensive unit of Fayette and defensive unit of Demopolis, which had both lined up in preparation for the next play, waved their arms repeatedly and encouraged their respective sidelines to a fever pitch. One play later, the Demopolis enthusiasm waned as a measurement that followed a Fayette pass gave the home team a first down on a play that ended the third quarter.

Fayette opened the final period with a string of six plays that covered 41 yards and left the team knocking on the door of a go-ahead score. After seeing the opposing team advance the ball all the way to the one-yard line, the Demopolis defense stiffened and pushed the unit all the way back to the eight. On fourth down, Fayette struck gold when Billups hauled in a pass in the end zone and tiptoed the sideline before being ruled in bounds. The missed extra point left Fayette with the 20-14 lead.

The Demopolis offense continued to struggle, running five plays before having to punt the ball away in the closing minutes of the game.

After Kerby’s punt pushed Fayette back to its own 16-yard line, the Demopolis defense stiffened, forcing another three-and-out. Then, on a pivotal fourth-down punt, Sanders drove Fayette’s up-back into the kicker, giving Demopolis the ball 8-yards away from tying the game.

“”I’ve got to get the ball back for the offense,” Sanders said of his thought processes before the play. “I gave my all on that last play just so they could.”

One play later, Demopolis fumbled the ball on a run up the middle, handing possession back to Fayette.

Demopolis got the ball back with 1:52 remaining on the game clock. The visiting team moved the sticks one time before Boone launched a pass deep for big-play senior receiver Brian Taylor. The ball fell short of its intended mark and once again found its way into the hands of Billups, who returned the interception to mid-field.

From there, Fayette proceeded to kneel on the ball. Demopolis continued its efforts to force another turnover. However, back-to-back personal foul calls against the Demopolis sideline overshadowed he conclusion of the game, prompting a chorus of boos from the visiting fans.

“Don’t say anything. Let’s just get out of here,” Causey said to his staff and team following the calls.

“You know that kind of stuff is going to happen on the road like that,” Causey said of what many blue-and-white clad players and fans considered suspect officiating. “You expect it to an extent on the road. But you don’t expect anything like that.”

After a game that saw Demopolis penalized eight times for 85 yards and Hardy exit with a bloodied eye following a play in which the running back’s helmet was removed and the whistle was not blown despite his progress having been stopped, the junior still held his team accountable for the loss.

“Coach Causey told us not to take these boys light,” Hardy said. “We didn’t practice as we should.”

Hardy was the team’s second leading rusher with 43 yards on 11 carries. James led the way with 119 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries.

Demopolis surrendered only one yard on the ground, but allowed Fayette to amass 259 through the air on the way to the loss. DHS will play regional foe Carver in Wetumpka next Friday night.