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Demopolis drops Sylacauga 56-35

After spotting Sylacauga 14 points, Demopolis rallied with a four-touchdown second quarter to fuel a 56-35 win in round one of the AHSAA 5A playoffs Friday night.

“If we were going to panic going down 14, we would have done it a few weeks ago against Greenville,” DHS head coach Tom Causey said. “That game really helped us at this point in the season.”

Sylacauga got on the board early with a 30-yard touchdown from Joshua Crowe. That run capped five-play, 51-yard drive that saw the Tigers yield 20 yards in penalties. The Aggies’ two-point conversion attempt failed.

Sylacauga added another touchdown later in the quarter when Crowe bolted for an 18-yard scoring run. Quarterback Kelsey Pope then hit running back Joseph Barnett for the two-point conversion to stretch the lead to 14-0.

Demopolis answered with a 10-play drive that covered 63 yards and culminated with a 13-yard touchdown run by sophomore DaMarcus James.

“He’s part of our offense,” Causey said of James, who had 214 yards and two scores on 15 carries while playing his normal role in the Tiger offense. “DaMarcus James is a great kid. He’s a great team player.”

Demopolis’ rally continued when junior Anthony Hardy picked off a Pope pass to halt a Sylacauga drive. On the only play of the Tiger possession, senior quarterback Rick Boone hit junior wideout Fred Irby for a 25-yard touchdown pass. The point-after attempt tied the game.

James started the next Demopolis scoring drive with a 35-yard run before capping it four plays later with a six-yard touchdown run.

Demopolis extended its lead late in the second quarter with a 36-yard touchdown strike to senior Brian Taylor. The Tigers carried a 28-14 lead to the half.

“We just keep working, keep going,” James said of the team’s mentality after its early deficit. “We can do it. We did it before and we can do it again.”

The Tigers surged out of the gate in the second half, marching 69 yards on seven plays. The drive ended on a one-yard scoring run by junior Anthony Hardy to extend its lead to 35-14.

“Other than a couple lapses in concentration, I thought our offense played extremely well tonight,” Causey said.

Sylacauga mounted its own rally, covering 84 yards on 16 plays. The drive ended with a four-yard touchdown run by Pope.

The Aggies then forced and recovered a fumble at the DHS 33. Pope dropped back and hit sophomore Aaron Brooks for a 33-yard touchdown pass to cut the game to 35-28.

Demopolis answered with a six-play, 64-yard drive that ended with a 10-yard touchdown run by Rick Boone. Demopolis added two more scores on a three-yard run by Hardy and a 50-yard run by Jacob Kerby.

Sylacauga added a late touchdown on a one-yard run by sophomore Matthew Collier.

“I think it was the first-round jitters,” Taylor said of the team’s slow start. “We got them out though. By the start of the second quarter, we were rolling. We weren’t pulling up.”

James led the way for the Tigers with 214 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. Kerby added 71 yards and a touchdown on three carries. Boone finished with 72 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. He also went 5-for-10 for 118 yards and two touchdowns through the air.

The Tigers will travel to Shelby County next week to take on the Wildcats in a second-round clash.

“At this point, the name on the jersey doesn’t matter,” Causey said. “We’ve just got to worry about us. It’s the same attitude we’ve had all year long. We just want them to come to work Monday through Thursday.”