Reported by Josh Bean of Al.com
What looked like a runaway transformed into tension-filled uncertainty in just 37 seconds.
But Maplesville fans had no real reason to worry, as the Red Devils (14-0) won a third straight Class 1A title with a 40-12 victory over Pickens County at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium.
After building a 20-0 lead with 5:41 to go in the third quarter, Pickens County scored on Demetrius Windham’s zig-zagging 84-yard kickoff return and Elliott Perry’s 39-yard interception return to make it 20-12.
“We just had to dig down and find some grit and some heart,” senior running back Terence Dunlap said.
Maplesville essentially put the game away on the opening play of the fourth quarter when junior Nathaniel Watson scored on a fourth-down, 11-yard run to make it 26-12. Game over.
Maplesville coach Brent Hubbert said he never seriously considered kicking a field goal for a possible 11-point lead.
“We’re not a big field goal-kicking team,” he said. “We felt really good about the call. … It was a no-brainer. Give to Nathaniel. We’ve got good guys up front. Run power.”
Dunlap ran for 180 yards on 38 carries and scored on TD runs of 1, 1 and 5 yards. He scored his third touchdown in the fourth quarter, and Brent Schoener scored on a 2-yard run with 1:09 to go. Dunlap had two other TD runs nullified by penalties.
Maplesville led 6-0 at halftime, but intercepted two passes – one by Dunlap – and recovered a fumble in the second half.
Maplesville’s defense allowed just 113 yards – all in the air – and didn’t allow an offensive touchdown. “
Did you know?: Dunlap was named the game’s MVP, the third year in a row he’s taken home the honor.
Play of the game: Windham’s 84-yard kickoff return saw him outrun the pursuit to the right sideline, fight off a tackler and sprint all the way to the left sideline before picking up a convoy of blockers.
“I wasn’t expecting to take it back,” he said. “I put my faith in God and He made it happen.”