E.A. Sports Today

County sweeps

All eight Calhoun County playoff teams win first-round games, the first time they’ve swept the opening round since 2004 and the largest group to do it since 1974

Donoho was one of a record eight Calhoun County teams that won first-round games in the Alabama high school football playoffs Friday night. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

By East Alabama Sports Today
Most high school freshmen keep a low profile, just hoping to fit in. 
Jack Hayes is not like most freshmen. 
The Piedmont signal caller tossed four touchdowns Friday night, leading the fifth-ranked Bulldogs to a 35-0 victory over visiting J.B. Pennington in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs. They’ll host Lauderdale County in the second round.
Pennington (3-8) pressured Hayes with blitzing schemes, even sacking him twice in Piedmont’s first four plays. But he adjusted quickly, tossing two scores before the end of the first quarter. 
With 6:04 left in the first, Hayes threw a receiver screen to Austin Estes. Estes slipped a tackle and outran the Tiger coverage down the left sideline to give Piedmont (10-1) an early lead. Bryce Mohon’s extra point put the Bulldogs up 7-0.
On Piedmont’s next possession, Hayes struck again, leading the Bulldogs on a nine-play, 94-yard scoring drive. His lob to Silas Thompson in the right corner of the end zone and a Mohon PAT put Piedmont up 14-0 with 17 seconds left in the opening quarter. 
Thompson caught six passes in the game for 57 yards with two scores. Hayes has thrown 33 touchdown passes this season.
“We held the ball a little bit long a couple of times early, and they got to us for a couple of sacks,” Piedmont coach Steve Smith said. “Jack did a better job as the half went on making the quick throws and the quick decisions to get the ball in the places where they had vacated. He continues to grow up and get better each week.”
Meanwhile, Piedmont’s defense was simply too strong for the Pennington offensive attack. The unit held the Tigers to just 82 total yards, their longest play from scrimmage a nine-yard run midway through the third quarter.
Piedmont shut out its opening round opponent for the second year in a row and fourth time since 2013. It was the Bulldogs’ 13thstraight opening-round win.
“They had very few plays over a yard or two on first down,” Smith said “That put them in long yardage on second and third down. That was a big key for us tonight.” 
Piedmont, on the other hand, tallied 438 total yards, 56 of which came on a three-play second-quarter scoring drive to push its lead to 21-0. Thompson capped it off with a 10-yard reception in the left corner of the end zone. Mohon added the extra point with 3:13 left in the second.
After another failed Tiger possession, Piedmont scored again. Though the Bulldogs started the drive at their own 26, a long Max Hanson reception, plus a facemask and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty quickly put the Bulldogs into a first-and-goal situation. Elijah Johnson finished off the possession with a six-yard scoring reception from the left flat. Mohon’s PAT put the Bulldogs up 28-0 with 1:31 remaining left in the first half. 
Johnson also scored early in the third quarter. Noah Reedy intercepted a J.B. Pennington pass on the second half’s first play from scrimmage. On the next play, Johnson rambled 59 yards down the right sideline. Mohon’s extra point put Piedmont in front 35-0.
In addition to tallying two touchdowns, Johnson had 88 yards on the ground on seven carries and three catches for 52 yards through the air.
Brant Deerman snared an interception later in the third quarter as neither team scored the rest of the game and the Bulldogs comfortably advanced to the second round.
“There are 16 teams left in 3A, and we’re glad to be one of them,” Smith said. – Roy Mitchell, Cherokee Herald Sports Correspondent

Jacksonville 55, Cordova 26

JACKSONVILLE – Ron Wiggins rushed for 214 yards and scored five touchdowns as the fifth-ranked 4A Golden Eagles set a school record for points in a playoff game.
Wiggins had only 11 carries in the game. He scored Jacksonville’s first three offensive touchdowns on runs of 36, 3 and 17 yards, then added scoring runs of 31 and 56. The Golden Eagles (9-2) opened a 41-0 lead early in the third quarter.
Jacksonville also had touchdowns on defense and on special teams. Yessman Green had a 61-yard punt return and 56 brought back an interception 18 yards. The Golden Eagles’ previous single-game high for playoff points was 49 against Locust Fork in 2014 and DAR in 2013. 
They’ve won an opening-round game three years in a row and will be looking for their first second-round win in school history Friday at St. John Paul II (9-2)
Cordova           0          0          12        14        –          26
Jacksonville     14        20        7          14        –          55
Scoring plays
J – Ron Wiggins 36 run (Mason Terrell kick), 8:13 1Q
J – Ron Wiggins 3 run (Mason Terrell kick), 2:05 1Q
J – Yessman Green 61 punt return (Mason Terrell kick), 7:42 2Q
J – Ron Wiggins 17 run (kick failed), 2:52 2Q
J – Jae-Taj Morris 2 run (Mason Terrell kick), 2:08 2Q
J – Ron Wiggins 31 run (Mason Terrell kick), 10:20 3Q
C – Jason Johnson 25 pass from Cody Headrick (kick failed), 4:55 3Q
C – Elijah Thomas 6 run (run failed), 0:33 3Q
J – Ron Wiggins 56 run (Mason Terrell kick), 11:48 4Q
J – Charles Cox 18 interception return (Mason Terrell kick), 10:23 4Q
C – Ashton Nash 3 run (Christopher Perrin kick), 3:43 4Q
C – Jackson Gable 14 run (Christopher Perrin kick), 1:10 4Q

Alexandria 10, Sylacauga 7

ANNISTON – Dekari Garrett scored on a two-yard run midway through the fourth quarter to give Alexandria its first lead and Ronnie Royal recovered a fumble on Sylacauga’s ensuing possession to preserve the Valley Cubs’ first playoff victory since 2015.
Sylacauga scored first on Sedrick Pope’s 23-yard run, but the Aggies missed a 30-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter that could have extended their lead. Pope finished with 77 yards, but Jordan Ridgeway was their leading rusher with 94 yards.
Garrett’s go-ahead score may have only been from a short distance, but it was set up by a 45-yard burst by Chaning Orr. The Valley Cubs (8-2) rushed for 246 yards as a team with Royal leading the way with 94 on 21 carries. Nate McCallum had 61 yards on 11 carries.
Alexandria visits Madison County in the second round Friday.
Sylacauga         7          0          0          0          –          7
Alexandria       0          3          0          7          –          10
Scoring plays
S – Sedrick Pope 23 run (PAT good)
A – Grayson Forrest 22 FG
A – Dekari Garrett 2 run (Grayson Forrest kick)

Anniston 19, Fayette Co. 6

FAYETTE – The Bulldogs opened a 19-0 lead and carried on to their first playoff win since beating Fayette County – also on the road – in the third round of 2011. The Bulldogs (7-4) will host Fairview (9-2) next week. It’ll be their first home playoff game since the 2011 semifinals.

Donoho’s Rod Elston (6) sweeps around the corner for yardage in the Falcons’ Class 1A playoff opener against Berry. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

Donoho 34, Berry 6

ANNISTON – Rod Elston ran for two touchdowns and returned one of his two interceptions for another as the Falcons won their Class 1A playoff opener for the second year in a row in a rematch of the game that launched their current six-game winning streak.
Despite Berry having the ball twice as long as Donoho, the Falcons outgained their visitors 279 yards to 139. Elston rushed for 121 yards on 14 carries.
The Falcons (9-1) travel to undefeated No. 6 Decatur Heritage (11-0) for their second-round game Friday.
To see a gallery of photos from the game, visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

Ber (6)Don (34)

Berry               0          0          0          6          –          6
Donoho           7          7          7          13        –          34
Scoring plays
D – Rod Elston 5 run (Ethan Miles Jamison kick), 1:37 1Q
D – Ridge Hopkins 3 run (Ethan Miles Jamison kick), 6:22 2Q
D – Amari Smedley 1 run (Ethan Miles Jamison kick), 6:50 3Q
B – Isaiah Kizzire 1 run (kick failed), 11:43 4Q
D – Ron Elston 18 run (kick failed), 7:23 4Q
D – Rod Elston interception return (Ethan Miles Jamison kick), 6:00 4Q

Ohatchee’s Nathan Higgins (42) and Briley Hale (58) wrap up a Southeastern ballcarrier. Eli Ennis (4) was back in the Indians’ lineup after missing the final regular season game. (Photo by Bo Hudgins)

Ohatchee 55, Southeastern 13

OHATCHEE – Domonique Thomas scored first-half touchdowns on runs of 11, 82 and 5 yards to get the second-ranked Indians going, then Noah Fuller and Trey Pesnell scored late to close out the Class 2A playoff opener. The undefeated Indians (10-0) host Collinsville (10-1) in their second=round game Friday.
With all eight Calhoun County playoff teams winning Friday, it marked the first time since 2004 every county playoff team advanced through the first round and the 10thtime since 1968. The eight, of course, is the largest contingent of advancers.
Here are the other years there was a clean first-round slate:
2004: Weaver, Alexandria, Oxford
1989: Piedmont, Wellborn, Oxford
1982: Anniston, Oxford
1977: Ohatchee, Wellborn
1974: Ohatchee, Alexandria, Saks, Anniston
1972: Alexandria, Oxford
1971: Ohatchee, Oxford, Saks
1970: Ohatchee, Wellborn
1968: Saks

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