E.A. Sports Today

Tigers survive

Randolph County survives tough week, conditions to outlast Geraldine and set up playoff rematch with Saks

Randolph County running back Atario Hester tries to break free from a Geraldine defender Friday night. On the cover, quarterback Damarcus Davis goes airborne to get through a hole. (Photos by Jeremy Wortham)

By Jeremy Wortham and Shannon J. Allen
For East Alabama Sports Today

GERALDINE – Geraldine delivered a gutsy performance against top-ranked Randolph County Friday night at Coolidge Isbell Field, but the Tigers prevailed 28-18 in a battle of mud in the second round of the Class 3A state football playoffs.

The Tigers (11-1) — the 3A state runner-up in 2017 — advances to the quarterfinals against former No. 1 Saks. The Tigers won the regular-season meeting 41-21.

Region 7 champion Geraldine finished 9-3, with all of its losses against top-five teams — 2A No. 1 Fyffe (12-0), 3A No. 5 Piedmont (10-2) and Randolph County.

Rainy field conditions through out the week limited teams across the state to fewer field practices and left field conditions soaked and muddy. It was an ongoing challenge for the Tigers and Bulldogs as both struggled to hold on to the ball and couldn’t find their footing in the mud to make the blocks and cuts that were needed to make their offenses go.

Still, the Tigers rushed for 415 yards and passed for 87. Dante Jordan led their ground attack with 180 yards on 15 carries. Quarterback Damarcus Davis had eight rushes for 146 yards and Atario Hester ran 17 times for 82 yards and three touchdowns.

“The weather was a big factor. We didn’t get to go out a couple days,” Randolph County coach Pat Prestridge said. “The field was real mushy and we couldn’t make our cuts and we were sliding around.”

The Tigers didn’t find the early jump start to get the offensive gears turning but after back to back punts, Hester got the first points of the game on a 9-yard touchdown run with 2:22 remaining in the first.

The momentum carried over into the second for the Tigers with Davis finding Trey Mcfarland on a 37 yard pass for another score. Jordan converted the two point conversion for the Tigers to extend the lead to 15-0.

The Bulldogs found their first positive note with 36 seconds left in the half when Andrew Hall intercepted a pass by Davis (his first of the season) and took the next offensive drive and scored on a 23-yard pass from D.J. Graham to Hall making it 15-6 at the half.

With halftime adjustments the Bulldogs took their opening drive of the second half and moved down into field goal range before being stopped. The Bulldogs went for the field goal and with a bobbled snap holder Kyle Thackerson rolled out and threw the ball into the end zone to be picked off by Jordan.

“We told the secondary coming into the game that the difference in the game will be the passing,” Prestridge said.

The following drive for Randolph County has an end result of Hester scoring his second touchdown from 7 yards out to extend the lead to 22-6 with 2:12 remaining in the third.

The fourth quarter brought some excitement for both sides. Geraldine got their second score of the game when Hall sprinted 35 yards down the sideline and didn’t let up until he found the end zone.

The Tigers quickly responded back with Davis rolling out on a bootleg and taking it 70 yards to set up Hester for his third touchdown and the Tigers final points of the game on a 3-yard run with 5:09 remaining to play.

Geraldine made it 28-18 with 2:26 to play. The Tigers recovered the onside kick and ran out of the clock.

Hall rushed 13 times for 136 yards to lead Geraldine. He also had five receptions for 61 yards. Graham was 13-of-27 passing for 206 yards.

“For the conditions our guys played in, I’m proud of our guys,” Prestridge said. “I’m just glad to survive. We’ll move on to the next round.”

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