E.A. Sports Today

Randolph Co. rolling

Tigers knock off last remaining undefeated team in Class 3A with balanced running game and ball-hawking defense

By Jeremy Wortham
Special to East Alabama Sports Today

BIRMINGHAM – The Randolph County Tigers have been able to roll through their schedule this season by having a punishing running attack and an opportunistic defense and both played key roles in lifting the Tigers into the Class 3A state quarterfinals Friday night.

The Tigers had three rushers with more than 100 yards, including Trent Lane, who ran for the winning touchdown with 1:27 to play, and Andrew Prestridge had two of their three interceptions in a 35-28 win over Fultondale, the last undefeated team in Class 3A.

The Tigers (11-1) now host Sylvania (11-1) in a quarterfinal matchup Friday night. They beat Sylvania in the second round last year 38-24.

Randolph County opened a 21-7 lead, but the Wildcats (11-1) scored twice in the final three minutes to tie it before Lane scored the game-winner.

“There was a lot of heart from our guys,” Tigers coach Pat Prestridge said. “The outstanding team that Fultondale was and all the athletes they have, you come into their house and being able to come out on top is outstanding for our program.”

Lane led the Randolph County rushing trio with 107 yards and three touchdowns on 10 carries. Aaron Knight rushed for 102 yards on 18 carries and Anterio Hester rushed for 102 yards on five carries.
And as the head coach has said on numerous occasions, “we’re not afraid to give the ball to anybody at any given time.”

“We have so many different weapons,” Knight said. “Everybody has a special trait about running the football. We all bring something different to the table and we’re all dedicated to what we do.”

The Tigers jumped out front after Andrew Prestridge made the first of his two interceptions on the opening drive of the game. Trent Lane capitalized with a 71-yard touchdown burst with 8:35 left in the first quarter.

Fultondale answered back on their second drive when quarterback Jayson Jones used his ability to extend the drive and score on a 25 yard run. Lane countered it with his second touchdown of the half — a 1-yard run — that gave the Tigers a 14-7 halftime lead.

Andrew Prestridge got his second interception late in the third quarter and returned it 35 yards to set the Tigers in great field position. They scored when Brody Wortham hit EJ Clark on a 6-yard pass to head into the fourth quarter 21-7.

“The coaches set me up at that time, told me to read the quarterback and look for a receiver coming into my zone,” Prestridge said. “When they look, you look; when they break, you break, I just did what they told me to do. Coaches put us in the right spot to defend that and that’s what we did. We were coachable tonight.”

Just when it seemed the Wildcats would be down for the count, however, they battled back to cut the Tigers lead when Jones linked up with Willie Smith on a 35-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth.

The Wildcats were marching for the tying points late in the fourth quarter when E.J. Clark ended the drive by intercepting a deflected pass. Knight took the Tigers down the field to end the drive with his first score on the night with a 35 yard run.

Behind the Jones-Smith combination, the Wildcats pieced together two scoring drives in the final three minutes. Jones scored on a 5-yard run with 2:12 to go and then threw an 18-yard pass to Smith with 40 seconds remaining. Jones completed 11 of 23 passes for 249 yards.

The Tigers put the finishing touches on the win in between the Wildcats final two scores when Lane scored his third and final touchdown with 1:27 remaining to seal the game 35-28.

“I knew we had to score,” Knight said. “We were put in position we had to score. Everybody was out there was giving out of gas, but we had to find a way to push through it. We had to find something deep down inside of us. That brought it out of us.”

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