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Demopolis upends Greenville in rematch

GREENVILLE — Demopolis (9-3) scored all of its points in the second quarter and the defense made the advantage stand up en route to a 26-18 victory over previously undefeated Greenville (11-1) in the second round of the Class 5A state playoffs.

The home Tigers scored the first eight points and the last 10, but fell short in their comeback effort when Demopolis senior Jeremy Wallace deflected a fourth down heave that fell incomplete with 1:54 to play.

“We were coached well,” said senior Larry Cobb, who had two interceptions in the game. “Coaches gave us everything we needed. They did what they had to do. Our thanks be to God.”

Things appeared to be headed downhill in a hurry for Demopolis as a second consecutive errant snap led to a the ball flying freely into the end zone. Quarterback Ben Pettus kicked it out of bounds for the safety.

Cobb nullified a Greenville scoring threat after the safety punt when he intercepted a pass in his own end zone. Greenville then forced a three-and-out on Demopolis’ next possession and proceeded to put together an 11-play, 55-yard drive that ended with a Cordez Peagler’s two-yard touchdown run. The failed extra-point put Demopolis down 8-0 with 1:16 to go in the first quarter.

Demopolis fired back with a 10-play, 89-yard drive that was highlighted by eight Damarcus James carries. The junior stalwart had runs of 34 and 29 yards on the possession, capping the march with a one-yard dive into the end zone. The extra-point attempt was blocked, leaving the visiting Tigers down 8-6.

Three plays later, Wallace came up big with an interception at the Greenville 37. Demopolis capitalized with a six-play drive that saw James carry the ball five times, ending the push with another one-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving DHS up 12-8 with 6:01 to play in the second quarter.

Cobb — who picked off three Ryan Smith passes in the Tigers’ 2008 rendezvous with Greenville — got his second interception of the night just two plays into the Region 3 champions’ ensuing drive.

He returned it to the Greenville 16 to set up the DHS offense and what proved to be another one-yard touchdown run by James. Spence Overstreet added the point after for a 19-8 lead with 3:25 until half.

“We played on a short field all the second quarter,” Causey said. “Defense got us some turnovers. Offense knew they had to put it in (the end zone).”

The defense stood strong again on the ensuing possession, forcing a three-and-out. That set Demopolis up just 41 yards away from another score. The big blow on a five-play drive came on a 33-yard pass from Pettus to Cobb that got the Tigers to the 6. Michael Davis put the ball in three plays later on a three-yard pass from Pettus. Overstreet’s extra-point proved true, extending the lead to 26-8 at half.

“Our defense did a great job,” Causey said. “We came over here last time and Greenville had their way with us. It stung us.”

While Demopolis did not score in the second half, the offense continued to move the ball effectively, handing it to James 20 times over the final two quarters. At night’s end, he had 43 carries for 279 yards. That gives the junior 86 carries for 544 yards over the past two games.

“We made no bones about it,” Causey said of James’ workload. “We’re going to ride him as far as we can ride him.”

Greenville added a touchdown on a pass to Mikweese Claybourne with 8:18 to play in the third quarter. GHS rounded out the scoring with a 39-yard field goal from Stewart Moody with 4:27 to go in the game.

“It helped us playing Shelby County last week,” Causey said of the physical nature of the game against Greenville, a team that downed the Tigers 28-7 just under a month ago. “(Shelby County was) real physical and you know how physical Greenville is.”

The win sets Demopolis up with a home date in the third round next Friday night against Leflore, who defeated Gulf Shores 27-14 Friday night.