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Defending champs go down 23-13

Logan Holley hauls in a touchdown pass in last night’s match-up with Briarwood. -- Michael Clements | The Demopolis Times

BIRMINGHAM – Demopolis had its chances to take advantage of Briarwood miscues after overcoming an early deficit but failed to cash in on the gifts en route to a 23-13 season-opening loss Friday evening.

“I like the improvement we made from week one to week two,” Demopolis head coach Tom Causey said of his team’s progress since a 14-6 Jamboree loss to Sweet Water last Friday night. “I don’t like where we are, but I like the improvement.”

Demopolis’ new-look defense played bend-but-don’t-break football for much of the first half, allowing Briarwood deep into Tiger territory on two of its first three possessions. In each of those instances, Wilson Whorton converted field goal attempts, once from 32 yards away and another from 42.

Already up 6-0, the Lions found themselves with another three-point opportunity with 5:17 left on the second quarter clock. An apparent 44-yard field goal attempt turned into a 27-yard touchdown pass on when Reagan White took an end around and tossed downfield to a wide open Michael Lathem. Whorton added the point after to put BCS up 13-0.

Down two scores with only minutes remaining in the half, Demopolis found its offensive flow for the first time. The Tigers used five plays and a personal foul to go 80 yards and cut the deficit to 13-6 when Ben Pettus went over the top to find a streaking DaMarcus James for a 32-yard touchdown pass.

BCS threatened once more in the third quarter but the drive went for naught when Dantrayle Wheeler and Wiley Isaac batted down passes on consecutive plays before Reid Barkley recorded a sack for a 13-yard loss on third down.

The Lions outgained the Tigers 227 to 85 in the first half, holding James to 49 yards on 14 carries and stifling the Demopolis attack for most of the opening two quarters of play.

“They didn’t do anything we didn’t expect. They’ve got good players who made plays,” Causey said of the Lion defense. “We knew they were going to be good on defense. Great first game. We’ll get better.”

Demopolis found its flow on the opening possession of the second half, amassing another 80-yard drive. This time the Tigers used 11 plays to make the march, ending the push when Pettus found Logan Holley over the middle for a 16-yard touchdown pass. Cameron Fendley added the extra point to tie the game at 13.

Momentum appeared squarely in Demopolis’ corner on the ensuing kickoff when Pierre Thomas emerged from a pile with a Briarwood fumble. But a dropped deep ball on third down stalled the drive.

Briarwood later added another Whorton field goal from 31 yards out to stretch the advantage to 16-13.

Briarwood again offered Demopolis a chance to take over the game when it muffed a punt late in the third quarter. Long snapper Allen Tucker came away with the ball to set Demopolis up at its own 48 yard line. Six plays later the Tigers turned the ball over on downs on a failed fourth and four run.

Briarwood all but put the game away with a fourth quarter touchdown that left the game at 23-13.

Demopolis ended the game with 216 total yards while Briarwood had 375. James finished the night with 97 yards on 26 carries to go along with 39 yards and a touchdown on three catches.

“We were better this week than last week as far as the penalties go,” Causey said. “(Demopolis is) a good football team. They fought their tail off. They’re good people.”

Demopolis returns to action next week against in its region opener when Chilton County visits Tiger Stadium.