On Friday night, the Choctaws loaded up and headed up Highway 82 to what seemed like the deepest part of the woods of Tuscaloosa County to take on the Sipsey Valley Bears. The game was a matchup of two teams who were tied at the top of the region with matching 2-0 records.
As the stands on both sides began to fill up, the atmosphere in the air was proof that this game was bigger than the last few games between these two teams.
The Choctaws won the coin toss and elected to defer their choice to the second half and began the game on defense. The defense set the tone early and quickly forced the Bears to punt the football. It took the Choctaws three plays to find the end zone. Jordan Leverette hit Matthew Cash over the middle and Cash broke to his right and raced 71 yards for the touchdown. Kevin Duran extra point was good and the Choctaws were quickly up 7-0.
After the defense again stood their ground on the Bears next drive, the Choctaws took over inside their own 40 and begin to march down the field behind the running and throwing of Leverette. On the 8th play of the drive, Cash again found the end zone, this time on a 5 yard run. Duran again nailed the extra point and the Choctaws were up 14-0 with the first quarter just half over.
The Bears took over on their next possession at their own 25. On the second play from scrimmage, the Bears threw a pass that was too flat and it was intercepted by Ty Burkes who returned it 33 yards for a touchdown. Duran extra point was true again and it was 21-0 as the game headed to the second quarter.
Both teams defenses would bend but not break for most of the second quarter. With just over 4 minutes to go in the first half, the Bears finally found the end zone when the Bears quarterback, LJ Cormier, found Wyatt Bailey over the middle for a 23 yard touchdown connection. William Espino kicked the extra point and the score was 21-7 as the teams went to the locker rooms for halftime.
The Choctaws opened up the second half and were looking to drive down the field and put the Bears away. But Sipsey who was coming into the game on an emotional rush following a comeback victory in their previous game, weren’t going to allow it. Archie Milligan tipped an attempted pass up into the air and then caught it and raced untouched into the end zone for a 16 yard touchdown. The extra point by Espino was good and just like that, the score was 21-14 in favor of the Choctaws.
But as they have all season long, instead of hanging their heads, the Choctaws offense regrouped and marched right down the field and scored when Leverette hit Kevon Holman for a 24 yard touchdown. Duran’s extra point was good and Bibb had extended their lead back to 14.
The Bears looked like they were going to drive right down the field and score with the throwing of Cormier and the back judge of the officiating crew. The Bears drove inside the Choctaws territory, but finally the defense turned them away.
The Choctaws offense quickly drove down the field with Leverette doing most of the damage this time with just his legs. He capped the drive off with a 5 yard touchdown run. Duran kicked his 4th extra point of the night and as the game headed to the 4th quarter with a 35-14 lead.
The Bears started the fourth quarter off by driving right down the field and with just over seven minutes left in the game, the Bears had a first and goal inside the Choctaws 1 yard line. The Bears would get no closer as the Choctaws defense stuffed the Bears on three straight running plays. On 4th and goal, the Bears seen their pass fall helplessly to the ground, and the Choctaws defenders celebrated as they headed to their sidelines.
Both teams would add a touchdown later in the game with Leverette finding Holman again for a 35 yard touchdown connection. The Bears would score on a 84 yard Cormier connection with Wyatt Bailey with the Choctaws backups in the game to make the final score 42-21.
Leverette led the Choctaws on offense. He was 11 of 16 for 271 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also had 88 yards rushing on 12 carries and another score.
Cash had 3 catches for 103 yards and a touchdown. He added 68 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown, most of them coming in the fourth quarter.
Holman had 97 yards on 4 catches and 2 touchdowns.
Burkes led the Choctaws on defense with 10 tackles. He also had the interception for a touchdown.
Luke Thompson and Dylan Goode each had 6 tackles on the night.
The Choctaws now have to turn their attention to this Friday night as they will load up and travel over 3 hours to play the number one team in 4a, the Andalusia Bulldogs in a non-region game. Both teams will enter the game with 5-0 records. Kickoff is set for 7 pm.