Shelby County falls to Tallassee on the road
By GRIFFIN PRITCHARD/Special to the Reporter
Coming into Friday’s game, Tallassee coach Mike Battles, Jr., had preached to his offense the importance of a fast start against a scrappy Shelby County squad. The message sank in as the Tigers needed only five plays to ascertain a lead they never relinquished, winning 42-14 and improving to 2-0 in Region 3 and 3-1 overall on the year.
Shelby County fell to 0-4 (0-2 Region 3) but will look to reverse that trend Friday when they host Marbury at Charles “Papa” McCombs Stadium in Columbiana.
The Tigers, led by ASWA and Montgomery Quarterback Club Player of the Week selection Brandon Baynes, defeated Talladega last week and carried that momentum in Friday’s game. Baynes, with runs of 5, 9 and 9 to start the drive broke free on a 47-yard scamper down the field and into the end zone for the game’s first touchdown.
Ben Graham added the point after and Tallassee jumped ahead 7-0 with 9:03 left in the opening frame.
Tallassee’s defense, which held T.R. Miller’s offense to under 300 yards two weeks ago and gave up only one score against Talladega last week, held firm on a fourth and six and forced the visiting Wildcats to turn the ball over after Mason Blythe’s pass was separated from DeAndre Sawyer by Tallassees’s Kobe Skipper.
Baynes, on the first play of the drive, broke free on a 37-yard run and then a 5-yard run two plays later.
Keon Jones bulldozed his way into the end zone for the second Tallassee touchdown, scoring on a 7-yard rush. Graham’s point after was blocked by a host of Wildcats, but the hometown Tigers lead swelled to 13-0 with 3:24 left in the first period.
And that’s the way the period ended as the Wildcats’ offense was again stalled after defensive stands by Blake Ware and Brady Hancock.
Shelby County opened the second period lining up on a fourth and one at the Tallassee 15. The give to Jamarius Mayfield was met with immediate resistance by Tallassee’s Ware and a handful of Tigers as he was brought down for no gain.
Shelby County stood their ground and, after the Tigers moved to their own 32, forced them to punt.
Mayfield found a crease and raced 24 yards to the Tallassee 33. Blythe, after a holding penalty put the Wildcats in a third-and-long situation, completed a 20-yard pass to Marcus Carter and then a 17-yard pass to Mayfield for the touchdown.
With the point after, Shelby County moved to within striking distance of the Tigers at 13-7.
They never got any closer.
Teddy Brooks, back after missing the Talladega game, fielded the en suing kickoff at the 1-yard line and didn’t stop running until he crossed the goalline on the other end of the field.
The 99-yard kickoff return touchdown swung the momentum back to the Tigers sideline where it stayed for the remainder of the night.
Electing to go for two, Baynes called his own number – for a third time after the first two conversion attempts were halted by first an encroachment and then facemask penalties – and raced around the end into the end two points. The short rush extended Tallassee’s lead to 21-7 with 5:14 left before intermission.
Baynes recorded his longest and most impactful run of the night on first down following a Shelby County punt.
The senior took the Reid Whitaker handoff and was met almost immediately by the Wildcats defense as a whole. Baynes pinball, spun and drove his way through the scrum of bodies and into the open field for a 77-yard touchdown run with 3:47 left in the second period.
Shelby County, by leaping over Tallassee’s front line, blocked a Tigers extra point try for a second time.
Shelby County, down 27-7 with time ticking down before the half, marched downfield aided by a defensive holding penalty and an 11-yard pass from Blythe to Carter.
With the clock at zeros, Blythe was flushed from the pocket and met with resistance by a pack of purple jerseys. The ball was separated from it’s white-clad carrier and bounced backwards to be recovered by Tallassee.
The Tigers took the 27-7 lead into the break.
Shelby County, looking for a reversal of fortune in the second half, found themselves on the defensive as their offense gave up a score.
Blythe handed off to one of his running backs as the defense closed down. The back fumbled and Jones recovered and took off on a 34-yard touchdown run – marking the first time this season in which the Tigers have scored in all three phases of the game in the same night – with 10:25 left to go in the third period. Baynes converted the 2-point play and the Tigers led 35-7.
The final score of the night came with 4:09 left in the third stanza.
After both teams traded punts, the Tigers lined up in the Notre Dame box with Baynes taking the direct snap. He handed off to Brooks on a counter that spanned 75 yards and turned into a touchdown.
Graham split the uprights on the point after to push the tally to 42-14.
Shelby County didn’t lay down.
Blythe connected with DeAndre Sawyer on a 45-yard catch and run. The offensive spurt was followed by an 11-yard Mayfield touchdown run.
The point after sailed through the uprights bringing the game to it’s final tally of 42-14.