E.A. Sports Today

Piedmont falls in final

Flomaton quarterback dominates, leads Hurricanes past Bulldogs 23-12 in Class 3A title game

Flomaton’s Daquan Johnson steps in to pick off a pass in the end zone to end Piedmont’s last best threat of the game. On the cover, Johnson breaks the grip of Piedmont’s Carl Myers on one of his 43 rushes. (Photos by Greg Warren)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

AUBURN – Someone asked Flomaton quarterback Daquan Johnson if he was tired.

“Not right now,” he said.

He had every right to be, though. The junior did just about everything for his team in Thursday’s Class 3A state title game and it was more than Piedmont could contain.

Johnson was most of the Hurricanes’ offense and a lot of their defense as they defeated the Bulldogs 23-12 to win their first state title – and spoil the Bulldogs’ bid for a third in four years – at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Piedmont’s Kaedon Jenkins (7) races past Flomaton’s Devonta Bradley on his 75-yard touchdown run that opened the third quarter Thursday and gave the Bulldogs a lead. (Photo by Greg Warren)

Johnson had 43 carries for 100 yards rushing and completed 6 of 13 passes for 166 yards. He ran for two touchdowns and threw for another. The Hurricanes (12-3) ran 68 plays as a team, so Johnson had all but a dozen – but as quarterback he touched the ball on every one, and handled both punts. Piedmont (12-3) had 43 total offensive plays.

On the other side of the ball he was the Hurricanes’ leading tackler, intercepted a Mason Mohon pass in the end zone that effectively ended Piedmont’s last best threat of the game and, fittingly, made the last tackle of the game.

“He’s been that way all year,” Flomaton coach Doug Vickery said. “He’s a warrior.”

Piedmont coach Steve Smith had seen something like this before. The effort reminded him of what Taylor Hayes gave his team in this very stadium during the Bulldogs’ 2016 state title game win over Mobile Christian.

If Piedmont was going to win its third state title in four years, it was going to have to do it with its ninth come-from-behind victory of the season.

The Bulldogs were held to 69 yards of net offense in the first half and trailed 9-6 at the break. Their defense kept it that close by holding Flomaton to five net yards on seven plays inside the 10, including a field goal to open the scoring and a nifty interception and return by Matthew Thornton on a gimmick pass Quincie McCall threw while in the grasp of Kaedon Jenkins.

But the Bulldogs got a huge play at the start of the second half when Jenkins burst out of the locker room and went 75 yards on the first play to give Piedmont a 12-9 lead and big change in momentum.

“That was a huge play,” Smith said. “We were having some issues (in the first half) getting all 11 people executing at the same time and that was a play we excuted really well.”

“It was really big,” Jenkins said. “It helped us get going and setting the tone. We struggled with that early in the first half. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to exploit that good start.”

The Bulldogs did make two defensive stops with the lead, but the next four times they had the ball ended with two punts and two special team fumbles. They had six of the 10 total turnovers in the game.

In the middle of all that, Johnson scored his first touchdown to give the Hurricanes the lead for good.

“We turned the ball over way too much in a game of this magnitude,” Smith said. “It was a pretty ugly game on both sides with lots of turnovers and stuff, but hat’s off to them for making those plays and doing what they had to to win the game … It was a situation where we didn’t play our best and Flomaton played a little better than we did today.”

Piedmont players console each other after Thursday’s 23-12 loss to Flomaton in the Class 3A state title game. (Photo by Greg Warren)

This was a Piedmont team that defied projections to even get here. Not many gave the Bulldogs a chance to go far, but they proved a lot of people wrong by winning their region and making it all the way to the state finals. This senior class – from the time they were freshmen – played in 59 of a possible 60 career games, one semifinal loss from playing in four straight state championship finals.

Actually, the Bulldogs weren’t on the field much in the first half. They ran only four plays (and a punt) on their two possessions in the first quarter and had the ball for just a shade over nine minutes in the half.

Flomaton scored first on a 25-yard field goal by Adarius Odom with 1:03 left in the first quarter. But the Bulldogs took their only lead of the half 6-3 on a 3-yard Mohon run; the extra point was blocked. The Bulldogs got the ball when Thornton returned his interception from inside the 5 to across midfield.

Flomaton went back ahead when Johnson tossed a screen pass to Sam Smith that went for 14 yards 1:33 before halftime. The Hurricanes set up the score on a 53-yard Johnson pass into the red zone.

Johnson threw for 159 yards in the first half and had 19 of the team’s 22 rushing attempts.

Smith “wasn’t a big fan” of instant replay when the initiative was introduced to Alabama high school football this year, but he threw the red challenge flag twice in the first half. One of his challenges was upheld.

Flomaton 23, Piedmont 12
Team stats Pied Flo

First down 11 17
Rushes-yds 25-148 54-158
Passes 7-18-2 6-14-4
Passing yds 70 166
Fumbles-lost 5-4 0-0
Punts-avg 3-28.3 2-23.5
Penalties-yds 4-65 7-52

Scoring summary
Piedmont 0 6 6 0 –12
Flomaton 3 6 7 7 –23

F – Adarius Odom 25 FG, 1:03 1Q
P – Mason Mohon 3 run (kick blocked), 6:26 2Q
F – Samuel Smith 14 pass from Daquan Johnson (kick failed), 1:33 2Q
P – Kaedon Jenkins 75 run (run failed), 11:44 3Q
F – Daquan Johnson 2 run (Adadius Odom kick), 0:50 3Q
F – Daquan Johnson 3 run (Adarius Odom kick), 8:00 4Q

Piedmont players converge on one of the five fumbles the Bulldogs endured in Thursday’s game. (Photo by Greg Warren)

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