Whatever noise was made out of Mobile County leading up to the first-round playoff game at Eufaula Friday night was quickly squashed as the Tigers used a stellar defensive effort and a workhorse running attack to send the Leopards home licking their wounds after a 35-6 thorough beatdown at the hands of EHS.
The victory lifts Eufaula into the second round of the Class 6A playoffs Friday night at Hueytown, the site of Eufaula’s first-round exit a year ago when Golden Gophers’ star Roydell Williams rushed 34 times for 358 yards and 5 touchdowns in a 38-17 victory. Williams returned last week in a 44-24 victory over Selma, but the 5-10, 202-pound back has been nursing a hamstring injury. He is considered a “hard commit’ to the University of Alabama by 247 Sports. His backup is senior Antonio Mason, 5-10, 223, who has committed to UAB.
Eufaula didn’t hold back in whipping Blount. Pounding the running game at the Leopards, the Tigers managed 279 yards on the ground and accounted for 16 of its 19 first downs by running. Devin Fuller had 20 carries for 129 yards and Zy Tennille had 15 totes for 112 yards. By the fourth quarter, Blount was simply worn out.
On the other side of the ball, Blount had 17 plays of no gain or lost yardage, finishing with 33 yards rushing on 28 attempts, a total that included a 29-yard loss on one of two mishandled snaps on punts. The Leopards fumbled eight times in all. Of its 14 first downs, Blount only had four via the run.
Blount stopped Eufaula on downs on the game’s first drive, then proceeded to march to the Eufaula 2 yard line. However, Blount star back Jarris Williams fumbled on the next play and Eufaula’s Sa’ivon Grant recovered at the 4.
Eufaula would reach the Blount 17 late in the first quarter, but Hess Horne fumbled and Emerson Striveson recovered for the Leopards.
The usually fast-starting Tigers didn’t score until their fifth possession, an 85-yard drive capped off by Horne’s 3-yard sneak with 7:03 remaining in the second quarter. Davis Wingate’s PAT by it 7-0.
A bad snap on Blount’s punt attempt was recovered by Eufaula’s Javon Rhymes at the Leopards’ 12. Three plays later, Horne ran it again, this one from 4 yards out with 3:54 left in the half. Wingate’s PAT made it 14-0.
Blount got its only score of the night with 1:39 remaining in the half on a 28-yard pass from LaMarcus Brown to Kameron Grays. The PAT was no good, leaving the score at 14-6.
Using the clock wisely, Eufaula managed to drive 71 yards in 9 plays. The big play was a 26-yard pass from Horne to Rah Rah Thomas, who simply outjumped a Blount defender at the 3-yard-line. Two plays later, Horne was in the end zone again following a 3-yard run. Wingate’s PAT made it 21-6 with 11 seconds to go in the half.
Horne got much help from both the offensive line plowing ahead and Luke Bush and Brooks Weeks pushing from behind to reach pay dirt.
Blount’s Jarris Williams, on his third carry of the second half, suffered a broken ankle and was helped to the sideline. The junior’s season was finished with 63 yards on 14 rushing attempts. The rest of the Leopards were credited with 14 carries for minus-30 yards.
The third quarter was scoreless, but Eufaula ended any hopes of a Blount comeback with 7:38 left in the game, facing a 4th-and-20 from the Blount 28. Horne set up in his usual quick-kick formation.
However, a direct snap to Tennille resulted in the senior sprinting to the end zone from 28 yards out. Wingate’s PAT made it 28-6.
Eufaula, on its final drive of the night, used 4:35 of the clock and scored on Fuller’s 19-yard run against a tired Blount defense with 52 seconds remaining. Wingate, going a perfect 5-of-5 on PATs, added the final point.
The Tigers played without star defensive end Dontrell Henry, but still shut down the Leopards. Weeks, who terrorized the Leopards all night, finished with 10 tackles, followed by Xavier Peterson and Bush with 7 each, Brennan Ford 6, and LeMarion Johnson 5.
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Score by quarters
Russell County 0 6 0 0 -- 6
Eufaula 0 21 0 14 – 35
EUFAULA – Horne 3 run (Wingate kick), 7:03
EUFAULA – Horne 4 run (Wingate kick), 3:54
BLOUNT – Grays 28 pass from Brown (kick fail), 1:39
EUFAULA – Horne 3 run (Wingate kick), :11
EUFAULA – Tennille 28 run (Wingate kick), 7:38
EUFAULA – Fuller 19 run (Wingate kick), :52
First Downs 14 19
Rushes-Yards 28-33 47-279
Passes 15-31-0 7-16-0
Passing Yards 261 69
Total Yards 294 348
Punts Avg. 2-29.0 3-33.3
Fumbles-Lost 8-3 2-2
Penalties 8-69 5-59
Time of Possession 23:11 24:49
BLOUNT – J.Williams 14-63, Johnson 1-23, Booker 2-5, Parnell 1-3, Davis-Jones 2-(-3), Casher 1-(-3), Brown 6-(-16), team 1-(-29). EUFAULA –Fuller 20-129, Tennille 15-112, Horne 8-26, Peterson 3-13, Townsend 1-(-1).
BLOUNT – Brown 15-31-0-261. EUFAULA –Horne 7-16-0-69.
BLOUNT – Grays 6-86, Parnell 9-85, M.Williams 2-83, Diamond 1-5, Harris-Mitchell 1-3, Davis-Jones 1-(-1). EUFAULA –Thomas 3-36, Fuller 1-23, Stevenson 2-8, Townsend 1-2.
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Last week’s region results
Eufaula 35, Blount 6
Spanish Fort 28, Dothan 21
Park Crossing 30, Saraland 27
St. Pauls 20, Sidney Lanier 14
This week’s schedule
Eufaula at Hueytown
Stanhope Elmore at Park Crossing
Other Eufaula Opponent Scores
Thomasville (Ga.) 20, Early County (Ga.) (5-5) 10
*Early County plays this week at Dublin, Ga.
Wakulla (Fla.) (11-0) 41, Suwannee (Fla.) 10
*Wakulla will meet Raines in the Florida Class 5A Regional semifinals