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Tigers stampede Bryant

Demopolis (4-2, 4-0) rode a four-touchdown night from Demetrius Kemp and a grinding performance from James Wilson to a key 42-20 region win over Paul Bryant Friday night.

The Tigers opened the night on their heels as the Paul Bryant ground game wasted little time moving down the field. The drive halted suddenly when Kemp chased down a Bryant runner in the open field and stripped the ball at the Demopolis 21. Demopolis jumped on the loose ball and drove as far as midfield before the drive sputtered.

Stephen Stewart then unleashed a 47-yard punt to stick Bryant back at its own three. Under duress from the beginning of the drive and throwing from his own end zone, Pradat fired his first pass to the turf and found Demopolis cornerback Justin Durant with his second attempt.

Duran’ts fifth interception of the year put Demopolis 19 yards away from paydirt. A personal foul penalty at the end of the play backed the Tigers up to the 34 before Kemp erupted for a 26-yard run on an option pitch from Tyler Oates that moved the Tigers down to the 9. Two plays later, Kemp punched the ball in from six yards out. The Mitch McPherson point after attempt put the Tigers up 7-0 with 6:16 to play in the first quarter.

It was a full quarter later before Bryant capped a six-play, 70-yard drive with a seven yard scoring run to tie the game at 7.

Demopolis wasted little time responding, chewing up 65 yards on six plays to retake the lead on a five-yard touchdown run from Kemp. The big play of the drive came when Oates slung a pass deep down the middle of the field and Logan Holley beat the defender for the 47-yard haul. McPherson added the extra point to make it 14-7.

On the next play from scrimmage, Pierre Thomas stripped the ball from the clutches of Tony Whitehead and recovered the fumble himself to set DHS up 67 yards away from a two-score lead.

Eight plays later, eluded Bryant defenders in the Demopolis backfield and plunged into the end zone for a five-yard scoring run. McPherson moved the lead to 21-7 with the point after.

“I thought we played kind of a see-saw game the first quarter,” Demopolis head coach Tom Causey said. “I thought we stepped up and made some plays second quarter.”

Demopolis added to its advantage on the first drive of the second half, marching 73 yards on 10 plays, punctuating the drive on a 15-yard end zone strike from Oates to Kemp. McPherson put the bonus kick through again, stretching the lead to 28-7.

Paul Bryant found its way back into the game on the ensuing possession, using 10 plays to go 66 yards. The Stampede cut the DHS lead in half on a five-yard run by Whitehead.

The ensuing kickoff then caromed off the shoulder pad of the Demopolis return man, finding its way into the arms of a Bryant defender to put the Stampede 15 yards away from putting itself squarely back in the contest.

Bryant did just that six plays later when Whitehead added his second touchdown of the night on a six-yard run. The extra point ricocheted off the upright to leave Bryant down 28-20 with 2:17 to go in the third quarter.

The final offensive touchdown of the night came two plays into the fourth quarter when Oates found Kemp on a 10-yard touchdown pass to wrap up a six-play drive that started with a 50-yard kickoff return by Kemp.

Peyton Pearson added the final score of the evening when he grabbed a deflected pass on an underneath route and took it 26 yards for a touchdown.

In the first start of his high school career, Oates went 7-for-11 for 133 yards and two touchdown threw the air and accounted for 63 yards on 17 carries.

“Tyler has been preparing for two years for the opportunity,” Causey said of Oates, who started in place of the injured Tucker Jones. “He was a backup for us last year as a freshman when Tucker got hurt. He made the right reads and made good decisions with the football.”

Kemp finished the night with 125 yards from scrimmage and four scores on just eight touches. Wilson turned in his strongest performance of the year, carrying the ball 24 times for 153 yards and a touchdown.

“I think our guys played hard,” Causey said of his offensive personnel. “The skill guys and the offensive line, they did their job and gave Tyler the opportunity to do his.”

Tyler Merriweather led the defense with nine total tackles. Durant added seven stops to go along with his interception while Thomas had seven tackles, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Wesley Anderson had eight tackles while Pat Taylor added seven. Spence Overstreet and Mike Jones each had six tackles and a sack.

The Tigers travel to Greenville next Friday night in another key region contest.

“I think every game is going to be big for us,” Causey said. “When you play a region opponent, it is like a playoff game and you have to treat it that way.”