Tigers beat Greenville
Friday night’s showdown had all the makings of a prize fight as Demopolis and Greenville traded blows right up until the final buzzer sounded as DHS walked away with the 48-41 win.
“This is the way Memorial Stadium deserves to end its regular season games,” Demopolis head coach Tom Causey told his players following an emotional victory.
“I hate it for our kids. It was a back and forth effort,” Greenville head coach Ben Blackmon said. “Hat’s off to Demopolis. They kept tight and kept fighting.”
The Tigers entered halftime trailing 27-12 after allowing Greenville’s Alex Phifer to score on a 47-yard reception, a 59-yard run and an 82-yard kickoff return during the game’s first two quarters. Greenville’s other score of the period came when Ryan Smith connected with Mikweese Claybourne on 14-yard touchdown pass.
DHS played catch-up all night after falling behind 13-0 to open the contest. Sophomore DaMarcus James got Demopolis on the board with a 12-yard touchdown run. Senior Jacob Kerby added a 13-yard scoring sprint in the second quarter.
“Kerby was running the ball like a machine,” Causey said of his senior back who carried the ball 17 times for 131 yards and two touchdowns.
DHS started the second half by going 77 yards on nine plays to cut the deficit to 27-19 on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Rick Boone to Anthony Hardy.
Greenville responded with its own nine-play drive to cover 59 yards and hand Phifer his fourth score of the evening on a 10-yard TD pass to push the game back to 34-19.
“Give Greenville some credit. They had a great game plan,” Causey said.
After a Brian Taylor kickoff return to the GHS 42 sparked the sideline, Demopolis used three plays to pull within one score. Kerby found the end zone on a 23-yard run to cap the drive and leave it at 34-26.
“An 18-wheeler could run through those holes. It wasn’t too hard,” Kerby said.
On the ensuing kickoff, the stadium reached a fever pitch when DHS defensive coordinator Rudy Griffin was ejected.
“It made me mad,” Boone said of the official’s decision to eject Griffin. “It really ticked me off. It turned our team up a whole nother level.”
Crowd noise and heightened intensity showed their effects on the next possession as Greenville committed three straight penalties before DHS junior Larry Cobb picked off his second of three passes in the game to squelch the drive.
“I only did what I was supposed to do,” Cobb said.
Demopolis then took five plays to tie the game on a 29-yard run by James. The sophomore then punched in the two-point conversion to knot the score at 34.
After the team’s exchanged possessions again, DHS took its first lead of the game on a 16-yard TD run by Boone.
“I had to go for my teammates,” Boone, who carried the ball 17 times for 113 yards while passing for 139 yards, said. “I wasn’t going for myself. I was going for this stadium and I was going for them.”
Three plays later, Cobb plucked Smith’s third-down heave out of the air to hand DHS the ball back. The home Tigers needed one play, a 56-yard touchdown run by James, to push the lead to 48-34.
Greenville then answered back with a nine-play, 68-yard drive that saw Smith punch it in from three yards out to cut the score to 48-41. GHS then recovered the onside kick with 3:08 remaining in the game.
Demopolis stood strong on the drive to hand possession back to its offense. The home team failed to move the ball, handing it back to Greenville with 29.8 seconds remaining in the contest.
Greenville’s fourth down prayer went unanswered when senior Carl Johnson pulled Smith to the turf to end the game.
“When you’ve got support, it goes a long way,” Hardy said of the enthusiasm the home crowd displayed.
James ended the night with 151 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries. The win leaves Demopolis in second place in the region, one win away from clinching home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.