E.A. Sports Today

Getting separation

Meadows, Handley run over Cherokee County to seize control of Class 4A Region 4 race

By Shannon Fagan
Special to East Alabama Sports Today

CENTRE — The Cherokee County Warriors have a thunderous back in junior bruiser Damien Ramsey, but sixth-ranked Handley brought the lightning in junior tailback Tae Meadows on Thursday night.

Meadows ran for 194 yards on 19 carries and scored two touchdowns to lead the Tigers to a 41-20 victory at Warrior Stadium that gives them control of the top playoff spot in Class 4A, Region 4.

“He’s something else,” Handley coach Larry Strain said. “He’s hard to tackle. He’s got a low center of gravity. He’s got great foot speed
to get up and down the field, but he’ll be the first one to brag on those folks making blocks up there for him.”

Warriors coach Jacob Kelley agreed Meadows is a special player.

“He’s as electric of a guy as you’re going to see in the backfield in the state of Alabama,” Kelley said. “We knew that going in. He’s a heck of a player. He ran the ball hard for them and gave us trouble all night.”

4A Region 4OverReg
Jacksonville 5-34-1
Cherokee Co.6-23-1
Cleburne Co. 2-51-3
White Plains3-40-4

Meadows made his presence felt early in the first quarter. After the Tigers defense forced the Warriors to punt on their opening drive, Meadows galloped 72 yards on the Tiger offense’s first play of the night for a score.

The Warriors (6-2, 3-1) countered with a big kickoff return by Whit Johnson that set Cherokee County up inside the Tiger 40. Four plays later, quarterback Cade Hopper connected with Johnson on a 32-yard touchdown pass to tie the game.

The Warriors took a 14-7 lead on their first drive of the second quarter on Ramsey’s 3-yard touchdown run, but once again, Handley (5-0, 4-0) showed how quickly it could score.

On the ensuing kickoff, Jamerqui Lewis raced 81 yards for a score. The extra point was botched, forcing holder and quarterback Cannon Kyles to misfire on a throw to the end zone for two, keeping the score at 14-13 in favor of the Warriors.

Hopper was intercepted by Tennessee commitment Dylan Brooks on the Warriors’ next possession inside the 20. One play after the turnover, Kyles connected with Maurice Cameron for an 18-yard touchdown. Kyles then tossed a 2-point pass to Brooks, which gave the Tigers a 21-14 edge with 8:20 remaining in the first half.

Meadows scored his second touchdown of the night with 1:27 left in the second quarter on a 48-yard scamper to put Handley in front 28-14, but the Warriors got another big kickoff return from Johnson to set Cherokee County’s offense up at the Tiger 45. Seven plays later, Ramsey lined up in the Wildcat formation and scored on a 1-yard run. They missed the extra point and it was 28-20 at halftime.

Then came the drive of the game.

Handley received the ball to open the third quarter and marched 68 yards in 14 plays, eating up almost 8 1/2 minutes on the clock. The dagger of the drive was Kyles connecting with Brooks for a 15-yard touchdown, which put the Tigers in front 35-20 with 3:22 to go in the third.

“We ate the clock up,” Strain said. “We decided to run the ball a little more at them there in the second half than we did in the first half. We had some kids who were out tonight, some of my starters out. I started a different quarterback tonight, so we felt like that was what we needed to do.

“We felt like Cherokee County’s offense was the best offense we’ve faced all year. You’ve got to tackle the big back (Ramsey), and you’ve got to stop the pass. Our defense played well too. It wasn’t just an offensive night.”

“We just couldn’t get off the field,” Kelley said. “It just gets frustrating and more frustrating. We’ve got a lot of guys going both ways, so they were kind of worn down. Going three-and-out two series in a row to open the third quarter didn’t do us any favors either. 

“You’re not going to beat teams like that giving up kickoff returns for touchdowns, giving up a big play on the first play of scrimmage, just doing things on special teams that didn’t help us out, turning the ball over. We had every formula for losing a football game tonight.”

The only bad thing about that happened to the Tigers on their opening drive of the third quarter was they lost Meadows at the 5:11 mark to what is believed to be an ankle injury. He did not return to the game, but at that point it was well in Handley’s hands.

Kyles connected on 10 of his 17 pass attempts for 143 yards and two touchdowns. Brooks caught two passes for 30 yards and a score. Cameron also caught two passes for 30 yards and a touchdown.

Ramsey finished with 102 yards and two touchdowns on 24 totes for the Warriors. Hopper went 9-for-22 for 118 yards and a touchdown through the air.

“Hat’s off to Handley,” Kelley said. “They enforced their will and made things their way. It was very frustrating.”

Shannon Fagan is Sports Director of WEIS Radio

Handley 41, Cherokee County 20
Handley               7   21  13   0   –   41
Cherokee Co.       7   13  0    0    –  20
H – Tae Meadows 72 run (Caleb Burns kick), 8:51 1Q
C – Whit Johnson 32 pass from Cade Hopper (Daniel Meija kick), 7:01 1Q
C – Damien Ramsey 3 run (Daniel Meija kick)
H – Jamerqui Lewis 82 kickoff return (pass failed)
H – Maurice Cameron 18 pass from Cannon Kyles (Jamerqui Lewis pass from Cannon Kyles), 8:20 2Q
H – Tae Meadows 48 run (Caleb Burrns kick), 1:27 2Q
C – Damien Ramsey 1 run (kick failed)
H – Dylan Brooks 15 pass from Cannon Kyles (Caleb Burns kick), 3:22 3Q
H – Amajah Williams 3 run (kick failed), 0:50 3Q

Hand (5-0, 4-0)Cher (6-2, 3-1)
221st Downs15
129Passing yds119

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