Tri-City Ledger -

By Joe Thomas
Ledger Editor 

Canes beat Piedmont for state title

 

December 13, 2018

Flomaton's battle was won with great play on the offensive and defensive lines of scrimmage

Flomaton High School brought home the school's first football state championship Thursday afternoon from Jordan-Hare Stadium on the campus of Auburn University in a game Hurricane head coach Doug Vickery said "For the next 100 years people will talk about the 2018 Hurricanes".

Flomaton defeated Piedmont 23-12 to claim the Alabama Class 3A championship in Auburn. It marked the first time in 94 years of football being played in Flomaton that the Hurricanes took home the championship trophy.

"I'm in a fog," said Flomaton head coach Doug Vickery. "It's unbelievable and words can't describe how excited I am for my players and former players."

Flomaton was holding the 23-12 lead when the Bulldogs took over with a little less than 8 minutes left in the game needing two scores to win. Piedmont got to the Flomaton 22-yard line before Flomaton's Daquan Johnson intercepted a pass in the end zone and the Hurricanes took over at their own 20-yard line with 3:54 left in the game with running out the clock as the main goal. Johnson, who rushed for 119 yards and hit on six of 14 passes for 166 yards was named the Alabama High School Athletic Association's Most Value Player.

In a game that saw the Hurricanes turn the ball over four times and the Hurricanes forcing six Bulldog turnovers, Vickery said it came down to heart.

"These guys never quit," Vickery said.

On a cold and windy morning at Jordan-Hare before more than 5,000 Hurricane supporters, Piedmont won the toss and deferred to the second half, giving the Hurricanes the first shot on offense.

Beginning at its own 26, Flomaton faced a third and 7 before Quincie McCall took a reverse for a first down at the 36 that moved the chains by inches.

On third and 9 Devonta Bradley picked up a first down at the Hurricanes' 46-yard line.

Facing a third and 10, Piedmont's Zymyrion Simmons picked off a Johnson pass and the Bulldogs had a first down at their own 47-yard line.

Flomaton's Evan Tatum got into the Piedmont backfield for a tackle for a loss and on fourth and 7 the Bulldogs were forced to punt.

McCall returned the punt to the Flomaton 40-yard line, but a review showed McCall's knee was on the ground when he picked up the punt and Flomaton took over at its own 21.

Flomaton's offense stalled and was forced to punt, but Piedmont fumbled the punt and Flomaton's Alex Cash recovered the ball to give the Canes a first down at the Piedmont 47-yard line.

On second and 5, Bradley picked up a first down. Following a false start on the Hurricanes, Flomaton faced a first and 15 at the Piedmont 47.

Johnson then hit Da'Shun Odom on a pass to give Flomaton a first down at the 9-yard line. The drive stalled and Odom kicked a 25-yard field goal to give Flomaton a 3-0 lead with 1:03 left in the first quarter.

Following a squib kick, Piedmont began at its own 31, but quickly fumbled and the Hurricanes recovered to give Flomaton a first down at the Bulldog 31-yard line. Johnson quickly hit McCall on a pass to set up a first and goal situation for Flomaton at the 5-yard line. Flomaton was facing a second and goal from the 3 when the first quarter ended with the Canes leading 3-0.

Johnson took it to the 1 and on fourth and 1, Johnson tossed the ball to McCall who tried to throw a pass that was intercepted near the goal line. Piedmont's Matthew Thornton intercepted the pass near the goal line and returned it 64 yards to the Flomaton 36-yard line.

"That was my fault," Coach Vickery said. "I should have tried to punch it in or leave them deep, but Quincie tried to make play. That one's on me."

Piedmont took advantage of the field position and marched toward the goal line on a drive which was capped by a 3-yard touchdown run. Flomaton's Jonathan Jones blocked the PAT but Piedmont had taken the lead at 6-3.

Bradley returned the ensuing kickoff to the Flomaton 33-yard line. On the drive, Flomaton was penalized for calling its fourth timeout of the half putting the Canes in a second and 11 situation.

Johnson responded by hitting Odom for a first down at the Piedmont 36-yard line. An illegal block on Flomaton backed the Canes up and on second and 18 from the 44, Piedmont's Simmons intercepted a pass and returned it to the Flomaton 46-yard line with 3:37 left in the half.

Flomaton returned the favor on a third and 8 play when Bradley intercepted a pass and gave Flomaton the football at its own 33-yard line with 2:49 left in the second quarter.

Johnson then connected with McCall on about a 48-yard pass and a 5-yard facemask penalty gave Flomaton a first down at the Piedmont 14.

Johnson then hit Samuel Smith on a screen pass and Smith spun around to dodge one would-be tackler and found the end zone for the touchdown.

After a false start, Flomaton's 25-yard PAT attempt was wide left, but the Canes led 9-6 with 1:33 left in the first half.

Piedmont was able to penetrate Flomaton territory on its next possession, but a sack by the Flomaton defense killed the threat and the Hurricanes took the 9-6 lead into the Auburn lockerroom at the half.

"We didn't play great in the first half, but our defense played lights out," Vickery said. "We felt good about where we were."

Flomaton was offsides on the opening kickoff of the second half, and a following a re-kick the Bulldogs started on their own 26.

One play later, K'Ahriyus Pennington went around left end and raced 74-yards to the end zone for a touchdown. Flomaton's defense stuffed the two-point try but with 11:44 left in the third quarter, Piedmont led 12-9.

Flomaton was able to drive to the Piedmont 35-yard line before turning the ball over on downs in a play that showed the Canes short by inches which drew a replay flag by Coach Vickery.

The challenge failed and Piedmont took over at its own 35 with 9:23 left. Flomaton's defense stuffed the attack to put the Bulldogs in a second and 14 situation and the Flomaton's Micah Boyette sacked the quarterback which eventually led to a Piedmont punt.

Flomaton took over at the Piedmont 43, but the Bulldogs' Kevon Harris intercepted an Odom pass. Harris returned the ball about 30 yards but the Bulldogs were flagged for a personal foul on a block against Odom and Piedmont began its next drive at its own 15.

The Flomaton defense held and following a punt, Flomaton began at its own 46-yard line with 5:15 left in the third quarter.

Flomaton picked up a first down at the 39 and while at the line of scrimmage, Piedmont was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct to give the Canes a first down at the Bulldogs' 24. Johnson converted a third and 3 into a first down at the 14 and he then hit Odom on a pass to the 6.

Facing a third and goal from the 1, Johnson found the end zone for a Flomaton touchdown. Odom kicked the PAT and with 8:50 left in the third, Flomaton had retaken the lead at 16-12.

Piedmont fumbled the ensuing kickoff and McCall recovered the loose ball to give Flomaton a first down at its own 47-yard line.

The third quarter came to a close with Flomaton leading 16-12.

Flomaton's drive stalled and the Canes were forced to punt again. The returner was drilled after a few steps, the ball came loose and Flomaton's Travon Brown fell on the ball to give the Hurricanes a first down at the Piedmont 26.

Flomaton converted a third and inches to a first down at the 15 and Johnson took it to the 3 for a first and goal situation.

Johnson scored from 3 yards out and Odom added the PAT to give Flomaton a 23-12 lead with 8:00 left in the game.

Alex Cash stuffed the kickoff return and Piedmont started at its own 10-yard line.

Facing a fourth and 8, the Bulldogs converted for a first down at the Flomaton 42 and then picked up first downs at the 32 and 22.

Johnson then intercepted the ball in the end zone to kill the Bulldog threat and Flomaton took over at its own 20-yard line with 3:54 left in the game. From there the Hurricanes were able run out the clock to seal the historic victory.

Coach Vickery said the key to the win was neither his players or coaches panicked.

"I really thought our defense dominated the game other than that one long touchdown run," Vickery said.

Seventy-four of Piedmont's 153 yards rushing came on that one play.

"I haven't seen the stats, but I read where we dominated the time of possession like 30 minutes to 18 minutes," Vickery said. "I thought all of our time in the weight room, preseason and during the season, showed in the second half."

Michah Boyette (77) made Piedmont's offense miserable all game-day

Flomaton will graduate 11 seniors from the 2018 class and Vickery said its been a special class that always believed.

Odom was a game-day decision after suffering a separated shoulder the week before, but the senior stepped up with huge plays on offense and defense.

"He's a warrior," Vickery said of Odom. "He didn't practice but one day this week, but he stepped up big for us Thursday."

Vickery said you're not supposed to win games when you turn the ball over four times, but noted the defense created six turnovers.

"I couldn't be more proud of a group of young men than I am of these," he said. "I'm proud for them, my coaches and the entire community who has stood behind us all year. For the next 100 years they will talk about the 2018 team. That's special."

 
 

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