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Demopolis drops Greenville 44-34

Demopolis (5-2, 5-0) is one game closer to clinching the Class 5A, Region 3 crown after it came out on the good end of a 44-34 track meet with Greenville (5-2, 4-1) Friday night.

With the game still hanging in the balance, DaMarcus James pushed his 24th and final carry of the night into the end zone for a three-yard score, stretching the Tiger lead to two possessions with less than a minute to play.

James finished his night with 248 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries for the home Tigers, but the highlight of the night for the senior was the fumble he recovered on defense.

“It felt great to make a big play on defense, turn the ball back over to the offense,” James said. “It felt great.”

The turnover was the first major defensive play turned in by the Tigers’ stalwart running back, who only began getting practice time at linebacker last week.

“He wants to win,” Demopolis head coach Tom Causey said of James. “It’s not about anything other than this football team for him.”

While James’ contributions were consistent and considerable, the Demopolis offense struck out of the gate with a two-play, 65-yard drive that saw Ben Pettus find James Wilson for a 33-yard pass before finding running room on a 32-yard touchdown dash.

“We just thought we might be able to sneak one in there on that first play,” Causey said.

“We came out of the locker room real hot,” Pettus said of the Tigers’ opening drive. “We found a crease and we were going to bust them with a big play.”

The missed extra-point that followed the score left Demopolis up 6-0 and kept all of the momentum from being squarely on the home sideline.

Greenville answered quickly with an eight-play, 62-yard drive that saw quarterback Kent Riley confound and frustrate the Demopolis defense for much of the possession before Jamall Hamilton capped the march with a seven-yard scoring run. Poised to take the lead, Greenville botched the point after attempt to keep the game tied.

Demopolis answered in kind on its next possession, using eight plays to go 65 yards and retake the lead on a nine-yard scoring run by James. Cameron Fendley’s extra-point put Demopolis up 13-6.

The visiting Tigers replied with a 10-play, 81-yard march that ended with an 11-yard touchdown run by Riley to tie the game again.

Demopolis needed very little time to find paydirt again as Pettus hit Wilson for a 76-yard scoring pass to put DHS back on top. After the home Tigers pitched the first defensive stop of the night on the ensuing possession, James rumbled 50 yards for another Demopolis touchdown, putting the Tigers up 27-13.

Greenville answered back with an eight-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 26-yard touchdown run by Fernandez Grey. Demopolis turned the ball over on downs after a promising drive stalled and needed the first of two Tramaine Irby interceptions to end Greenville’s final possession of the first half.

James’ fumble recovery came on the opening possession of the first half and led to a 26-yard field goal from Fendley to push the Demopolis lead to 30-20.

Greenville proceeded to milk the clock and drain the Demopolis defense on a 15-play drive that covered 74 yards of Tiger Stadium turf and ended with a four-yard scoring run by Patrick Bedgood.

Demopolis moved the lead to 37-27 on the ensuing possession when Pettus went over the top to Kiandre Adams for a 34-yard touchdown pass.

Greenville showed its resiliency on its next possession, overcoming what appeared to be a costly personal foul penalty when Riley broke off a 73-yard touchdown run to put the visiting Tigers down 37-33 with 9:45 to play.

Demopolis incurred three false start penalties on its next drive, leading to its only punt of the night, a kick that penned Greenville at its own 11.

The Demopolis defense answered the call by putting together its only three-and-out of the game before the offense milked the clock with a nine-play, 40-yard drive that culminated with James’ final touchdown run of the night.

Wilson finished his night with 13 carries for 75 yards and three receptions for 121 yards and a score. Pettus was 4-for-8 through the air for 155 yards as Demopolis and Greenville combined for 993 yards of total offense.