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Tigers get running game going, get turnovers to score 22-20 win

The Demopolis Tigers scored its first win of the 2018 season in a tight game on the road at Northridge High School Friday night, 22-20.

Special teams played a large role in the first half, including leading to the first points of the game for Demopolis. On the second series of the game for the Northridge offense, the Demopolis defense held firm leading to a fourth and 12 at the NHS 27. On the punt, the snap went over the punter’s head and into the endzone leading to a safety, giving DHS a 2-0 edge.

The free kick also played well for the Tigers, taking possession at their own 46 yard line. A screen pass from Peyton Stevenson to Tyquan Alston was good for an 8-yard gain across midfield. A.J. Besteder got the running game going for Demopolis, with several positive runs, including a 15-yard gain that set up first and goal from the 6. Two plays later Besteder bullied his way into the endzone. The point-after was no good, giving Demopolis an 8-0 lead.

An onside kick attempt did not fool the Jaguars who came up with possession at the DHS 47. On the second play of the possession, Cameron Miller found running room around the edge and went 47 yards to the endzone. The point-after made the score 8-7 with 1:45 to go in the first quarter.

The next Northridge possession ended when a pass to the sideline was picked off for Demopolis by C.J. Williams, but a couple flags would hinder the following drive, ending on a fourth down conversion attempt.

Later in the second period, Northridge would take advantage of a good starting field position, as Trey Finison slammed home a 47-yard field goal to give the Jaguars their first lead of the game, 10-8, with about three mintues to go in the half.

The second half started well for the Tigers as senior runningback Besteder led the charge with several positive runs, including one for  16 yards. A pass interference call against Northridge set up the Tigers at the 12. A bad snap was recovered well by Stevenson who picked it up and found his way for 11 yards to the 1-yard line and Besteder finished off the drive from there. Malaki Simpson’s PAT gave DHS the lead again, 15-10.

The Tigers would add to their lead in the third. Freshman runningback Brandon Franklin would get the drive going in a big way with a 34-yard gain into the redzone at the 16. Then, a few short gainers and a fumbled ball set up a fourth down and goal at the three. From there, Besteder was given the handoff and he broke a tackle and went into the endzone. Simpson’s PAT was good for a 22-8 edge.

Looking for a quick strike on their next possession, Northridge went deep down field only to find Williams waiting for them as he hauled in his second interception of the night.

Taking a 12-point lead into the final quarter, Northridge would not go down without a fight. Early in the fourth, the Jaguars drove the ball down to the Tiger 13 and once again it was Williams who stalled their progress, breaking up a pass from the 13-yard line. On fourth down, the Jaguars went with Finison who was good from 30 yards to cut the lead to 22-13.

The Tigers’ next possession managed to take a couple minutes of the clock, but not much more as Northridge took possession  needing two scores.

The second play of the series was a completion for 17 yards. But, a big sack by senior Tavian Brown set the Jaguars back, ultimately leading to a fourth down. From there, the Tiger defense pressured the Northridge quarterback who was hit as he threw, resulting in an interception by Demopolis senior Allen Pruitt.

The Tigers played conservatively, handing the ball to their senior runningback Besteder. At the Jaguar 25, DHS faced a fourth and two that came up short, giving Northridge possession, but a long field to go with about two minutes to go.

A big completion that went for 39 yards highlighted the following drive for the Jaguars who would end up scoring from the 1-yard line. The Demopolis lead was cut to only two points, 22-20, but the Jaguards would need an onside kick in order to give Finison another shot at a field goal and a possible win for Northridge.

The onside kick did come, but Demopolis was ready and recovered, allowing the Tigers to run the clock.

The Tigers will host Bibb County next week for its first home game and first region game of the season.

(This article originally appeared in the Wednesday, September 1 issue of the Demopolis Times.)