Calera comes up big in playoff opener

Calera running back ShaKeith Tyes breaks tackles in a playoff win over Vigor on Nov. 7. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

Calera running back ShaKeith Tyes breaks tackles in a playoff win over Vigor on Nov. 7. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Editor

CALERA — The night belonged to Shakeith Tyes, but it was the Calera defense that made the play of the night to keep the season going for the Eagles.

A huge defensive play to stifle a two-point conversion attempt gave the Eagles a 28-26 win over the Vigor Wolves in the first round of the AHSAA Class 5A playoffs.

The Eagles started scoring for the evening, opening up a 6-0 lead on a ShaKeith Tyes 6-yard run. Austin Ford’s extra point was good, and the Eagles’ led, 7-0 with 7:40 left in the first.

After swapping punts, Vigor got on the board with a 3-yard run by Cameron Cole cut the lead to 7-6. The extra point attempt was no good, and the Wolves trailed by one with 2:36 left in the first quarter. After a Calera fumble, and swapping possession via failure to convert on fourth down as well as another Vigor punt, Calera struck again.

After three plays moved the ball 23 yards, Tyes took over. On the fourth play of the drive, the running back gashed the Vigor defense for 14 yards before bouncing off of and breaking out of tackles left-and-right for 16 more yards. Once again, Tyes took the ball for a third consecutive play, dragging defenders on his way to the endzone for a 16-yard score. Ford was on point for another PAT, and the Eagles led 14-6 with 42.4 seconds left in the half.

Coming out of the half, Vigor was unable to move the ball and punted, setting up Calera on its own 24. The Eagles once again kept it on the ground, as both Tyes and Ty Evans took turns running it. Tyes registered his third touchdown of the night on a 3-yard run to put the Eagles up 20-6. Ford connected on another extra point, and the Eagles led, 21-6 with 4:57 left in the third.

With the game seemingly out of reach, the Wolves roared to life. A 45-yard touchdown strike from Cameron Williams to Jeremyah Howell injected new life into the road team, and while the two-point attempt came up short, the Wolves showed signs of life at 21-12 with 2:28 to go in the third.

Calera answered on their next drive, as Tyes broke a 35-yard run for score to put the Eagles up 28-12 with 1:06 left in the third quarter after Ford’s extra point.

The Wolves struck back on the first play from scrimmage, as Vigor ran a halfback pass that saw Cole hit Brandon Rogers for 51 yards and a score. The two point try was no good, and the Wolves cut the lead to 28-20 with 48.8 seconds to go in the third.

After a Calera punt, Vigor put together a long, grinding drive that ran 83 yards and lasted 17 plays. The Wolves capped it off with a 3-yard run by Desherius Flowers to cut the lead to two with 2:55 remaining.

Vigor needed just three yards to tie the game on the two point conversion and fully swing momentum their way. Just as it appeared the Wolves would pull even, the Eagle defense swarmed the ballcarrier, sopping him short of the conversion.

It proved to be the difference in the game, as the Eagles held on for the 28-26 win.

“That’s Vigor,” head coach Wiley McKeller said. “That’s just an explosive football team we just played. They’ve got guys that can run everywhere. Our kids played really hard, we had a good week of practice. We did some things really well tonight.”

With the win, the Eagles move on to face Greenville in round two. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Tiger Stadium, located at 100 Tiger Drive, Greenville.