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Demopolis dominates LeFlore in third round

Demopolis (10-3) optioned its way into the Class 5A state semifinals Friday night with a 42-23 home win over LeFlore. For the Tigers, the task was to counter a bigger, stronger, faster Rattler team that was riding a nine-game win streak.

“What they did defensively matched up real well with what we did offensively,” Demopolis head coach Tom Causey said. “That is what the option game is designed for. Somebody is bigger than you, stronger than you, more physical than you, you read ‘em and go the other way.”

Demopolis did just that early and often Friday night, handing the ball to Damarcus James five times on the first possession of the game, watching him tote it into the end zone from 33 yards out to put the Tigers up with 8:59 to go in the first quarter. Spence Overstreet added the point after to make it 7-0.

After a LeFlore three-and-out, the Tigers appeared ready to ignite a rout when they mixed a little of Ben Pettus in with a lot of James to get the ball down to the LHS 20 before a misfired pitch on fourth down squelched the scoring threat.

LeFlore capitalized on the miscue, showing its first signs of life by marching 68 yards on five plays to tie the game with 1:24 on the first quarter clock.

Demopolis righted itself on the next possession, going 69 yards on 10 plays to extend the lead to 14-7 on a 10-yard sprint by Michael Davis.

Kiandre Adams halted the next drive by intercepting a Rattler pass. The ensuing drive stalled at LeFlore 25. After an LHS punt, Demopolis turned the ball over on a bad snap on third down, setting the Rattlers up 22 yards away from tying the game.

The Rattlers’ toss into the end zone proved fruitless as Anthony Hardy picked off the pass dashed out to his own 49 to give the Tigers the chance to extend their lead with 1:12 to play in the game’s opening half.

“That’s huge,” Causey said of the three turnovers forced by his defense. “I think every game, especially in the playoffs, turnovers are magnified.”

Demopolis made the most of the momentum swing, finishing what Hardy started by going 51 yards on six plays to move the lead to 21-7 on an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Wallace.

The Tigers moved into full-fledged blowout mode in the third quarter as they trounced the Rattlers’ offense on four consecutive plays to open the period and took over on downs at the LHS 39. Four plays later, the rout was officially on at James turned in his second 33-yard touchdown run of the game to move it to 28-7.

On its next possession, Demopolis needed only two plays to score, finding Anthony Hardy on a 78-yard touchdown pass to extend the advantage to 35-7.

The Tigers got their final score of the night on an 11-yard jaunt by Pettus that capped a nine-play, 70-yard drive, shifted the lead to 42-7 and sent the starters to the sidelines for good.

LeFlore added two scores against the Tiger reserves in the fourth quarter to narrow the gap.

The win advances Demopolis to the fourth round where it will host Spanish Fort next Friday night. The Toros defeated Briarwood Christian 21-7 Friday.

“This is not our goal,” Causey told his team after the game. “Our goal is past this.”

Game notes

Damarcus James carried the ball 25 times for 206 yards and two touchdowns.

The totals give him 750 yards on 108 carries through the first three rounds of the playoffs and 2,037 yards and 16 touchdowns on the season.

Senior offensive lineman Trent Blackwood got his first career start in the stead of the injured Allen Tucker.

“He’s a senior who hasn’t played a whole lot his entire career and stepped in tonight and looked like a million dollars,” Causey said of Blackwood.