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Demopolis slips past Shelby County in 2OT

COLUMBIANA – It took four quarters and two overtimes, but Demopolis prevailed Friday night with a 26-20 win over No. 4 Shelby County in the first round of the AHSAA, Class 5A state tournament.

“I’ve coached for 16 years,” Demopolis head coach Tom Causey said of what he characterized as one of the most memorable games of his career. “This game had its ups and downs. We needed this one.”

The Tigers, who never trailed in the contest, took an early lead when Damarcus James broke off the right tackle, hit the sideline and sprinted 80 yards for the game’s opening touchdown. Spence Overstreet added the extra-point for a 7-0 lead with 5:26 to go in the first quarter.

Shelby battled back and tied the game on a halfback pass with 9:31 to play until the half. The misdirection culminated an 11-play, 80-yard drive.

On the ensuing possession, the Wildcats held the Tigers to a three-and-out. Then a bobbled snap on the punt attempt set SCHS up six yards away from its first lead of the night.

On first down, DHS junior defensive lineman Reid Barkley exploded into the backfield and found himself in the right spot to recover the Wildcat fumble at his own 24.

A second consecutive SCHS possession ended in a turnover when junior Kiandre Adams picked off a third down heave at his own 38.

The Tigers turned that takeaway into points, marching 62-yards on seven plays. The big blows of the drive came from Michael Davis, who rumbled 32 yards on a swing pass to start the possession and punched his way in from 8-yards out to end it. Overstreet’s point after gave Demopolis the 14-7 lead heading into the break.

The success on the ground came a week after the Tiger offensive line struggled mightily against Thomasville.

“It’s always been in us,” Causey said of his offensive line’s play. “Their manhood got challenged this week. They answered the call.”

The teams played a scoreless third quarter. Then, with 5:07 to play, Shelby County struck gold on a 23-yard touchdown pass. The point after tied the game at 14.

Demopolis then began its methodical final drive. The Tigers used 10 plays to go from their own 25 all the way to the Wildcat 12.

With 42 seconds remaining on the game clock, Causey sent his field goal unit onto the field. The unit failed to get the hold down, sending the game into overtime.

In the first extra period, Davis bolted 10 yards on the only play of the period to give the Tigers a 20-14 lead. The extra-point attempt was blocked, leaving Demopolis up by six.

The Wildcats then answered with a 12-yard TD pass on third down. With the game tied and an extra-point kick separating Demopolis from the end of its season, Causey called a timeout. The point after sailed wide, ensuring the game of a second overtime.

In the second OT, Shelby County got the first possession. The Wildcats moved seven yards to the DHS 3 on first down before throwing an incomplete pass on second down. Anthony Hardy strung a sweep out wide and made a tackle to stop the third down attempt. The Wildcats’ final offensive play of the season ended when Barkley again penetrated deep into the backfield and swatted down a pass, handing his team the opportunity to win.

Demopolis did just that three plays later when James took his 37th carry of the night into the end zone for a walk-off touchdown.

James finished the night with 243 yards and two scores on 37 carries. Davis touched the ball a total of five times for 65 yards and two scores.

Barkley had 10 total tackles with a forced fumble and a pass deflection. Davis also had 10 stops and a forced fumble from his linebacker position.

All told, the Tigers forced five turnovers on the night.

“Huge. That’s huge,” Causey said. “Those turnovers were the difference in the game. No doubt about it. The turnovers played a huge part in the game.”

The win sets Demopolis up with a second round date with No. 2 Greenville.

“We’re looking forward to the opportunity. Bottom line,” Causey said.