By Mark Clark
For the first time since a 61-0 rout of the Smiths Station Panthers in 2009, the Central High Red Devils recorded a shutout in the annual Backyard Brawl. Central defeated Smiths Station 49-0 last week at Panther Stadium which also gave the Red Devils their 10th consecutive victory over the team just up Old Opelika Road from their campus.
Even with a 49-point victory, Central coach Jamey DuBose had nothing but praise for his team’s opponent.
“That’s a good football team over there,” DuBose said during post-game interviews. “That was the first team to really push us in the first half. We haven’t had that so far this year. I think it was good that it happened. Coach Glisson did a good job getting his players ready tonight. We just kept working and finally wore them down.”
The Panthers did come out put pressure on the Red Devils offense. Smiths Station stopped Central opening drive at the Panthers’ 21-yard-line on a fourth-and-13 play with 8:52 left in the first quarter. Then after seeing its first drive stopped at the Central 36, Smiths Station pinned Central at its own 1-yard-line with a 35-yard punt with 3:01 left in the opening quarter.
But, that is when Central struck for its first touchdown of the evening on its fifth play following the punt. Central backup quarterback Tucker Melton connected with E.J. Williams on a 7-yard pass to start the drive. Joseph McKay then ran for seven more yards to give Central a first down at its 15. Two incomplete passes and a five-yard penalty left Central facing third-and-15 from its 10-yard-line. Melton then struck with a 90-yard touchdown pass to Peter Jakes with 1:49 left in the first quarter. With Noah Pell’s extra-point kick, Central led 7-0.
After exchanging punts to start the second quarter, Central got a gift with the recovery of a Smiths Station fumble at the Panthers’ 9-yard-line. Marquez Henry recovered the loose ball to give his team its second scoring opportunity from the Smiths Station 1. It took one play for A’Montae Spivey to cover six yards for the touchdown at 9:33 left in the second quarter after a penalty against the Red Devils moved the ball back five yards. Pell’s kick made the score 14-0.
Central began its next possession at its 38 and promptly drove 62 yards in six plays to up its advantage to 21-0. Central quarterback Peter Parrish hit Jackson Meeks on a 34-yard pass on the first play of the drive and then connected with Drake Holloway for 12 yards to the Smiths Station 16. Spivey ran the next three times with his third run going for six yards and another touchdown. With Pell’s kick, Central led 21-0 with 5:11 remaining in the half.
Central led 21-0 at the half. The Red Devils did not compile a load of offensive stats in the first half. The Red Devils had 11 carries for 17 yards rushing at intermission. They did have 158 passing yards for 222 total yards. Central’s defense made sure Smiths Station was no threat in the first 24 minutes, holding the Panthers to 54 yards rushing and 42 passing yards for a total of 96 yards.
After halting Smiths Station’s first possession of the second half and forcing a punt, the Red Devils began their initial possession of the half at their own 27. Melton was stopped for no gain on the first play of the drive. Spivey got five yards with a run on second down. On third down, Melton hit Jakes for an 8-yard gain to get a first down. Spivey was stopped for no gain on first down and then ripped off runs of 27 and 33 yards. The 33-yard run was for his third touchdown of the night and with Pell’s kick upped Central’s lead to 28-0 with 8:16 left in the third quarter.
The Red Devils defense came up big less than two minutes later to help Central to its next score. After stopping the Panthers short of a first down, Central forced Smiths Station to punt. A bad snap to the punter allowed Henry to recover the loose ball and return it 30 yards for a touchdown with 6:18 left in the third quarter. Central led 35-0.
Central’s defense forced another three-and-out and forced another Smiths Station punt on the Panthers next possession. The punt was partially blocked and went just 21 yards. Central took over at its 40 and took 11 plays to get into the end zone. Parrish connected with Williams on a 6-yard touchdown pass with 1:39 left in the third quarter. With Pell’s sixth extra-point kick, Central led 42-0.
With the 42-point lead, Central agreed to play with a running clock in the final 12 minutes of the game. The clock ticking away did not stop the Red Devils from adding another touchdown on their last offensive play of the night. Third team quarterback Trey Miles connected with Curtis Thomas on a 29-yard touchdown pass with 2:20 showing on the clock. Pell kicked the extra point to make the final score 49-0.
“It was good to get some of the younger guys in the game and score and to be 1-0 in the region and 3-0 overall. We have to go on the road to Prattville next for another region game. We will have to work hard this week to give ourselves a chance to win. We won’t be able to win many games if we keep making mistakes like we have. There were a lot of flags tonight. We have to stop that from happening. Every time we got going offensively, we shot ourselves in the foot. We will figure it out,” DuBose said.
“I think our defense played really well tonight. They kept Smiths from scoring and gave us a couple of opportunities to get points. They also got some points for us. I think all our quarterbacks are throwing the ball well. Tucker Melton just has a hot hand right now. He got the long one for us. I think he might have had another one that could have been a touchdown before halftime, but he didn’t get it off quick enough. I wasn’t out there, so I’ll talk with him to see what he might have seen on the play. He’ll tell me what happened. Peter Parrish hit some nice passes on that scoring drive in the third quarter. He started out the game hitting his receivers, but we kept getting penalties that stopped us. Trey Miles had a nice touchdown pass at the end. I think they all three played well for us tonight,” DuBose added.
Central finished the night with 448 total yards – 269 passing and 179 rushing the ball. Spivey was Central’s leading rusher with 90 yards on 10 carries with three touchdowns. Jakes made three catches for 105 yards with a touchdown.
On the defensive side of the line of scrimmage, Central’s defense held Smiths Station to 114 total yards – 61 rushing yards on 38 attempts and 53 passing yards. They also forced three fumbles and returned the bad snap on a punt attempt for a touchdown. The Red Devils defenders recorded five sacks. Henry had a sack, a pair of fumble recoveries and a touchdown on a bad snap on a punt that he returned 30 yards for the points.
For the night, there were 30 penalty flags thrown in the contest with 21 of them accepted. Central was flagged 13 times for 126 yards while Smiths Station had eight penalties for 65 yards.
Central will be at Prattville High tomorrow night at Stanley Jenson Stadium. Kick off is set for 8 p.m. ET.