Story By Griffin Pritchard | Publisher
Photos by Sandie Free | CAScoreboard Photographer
PRATTVILLE – Prattville’s offensive demise can be attributed to one play Friday night: a 90-plus yard interception return for a touchdown. According to first-year Lions head coach JB Wallace, that one play “took the wind out of (Prattville’s) sails.”
Wallace: “That swung the momentum like no other and we could never get it back after that. We’ve got to learn to bounce back after adversity like that. But one thing about my kids, they never stopped playing.”
The pick-six came during a nine-minute scoring flurry in which the No. 2 Buccaneers put the home-standing Lions on their heels and ultimately away 35-16.
“We’ve got to get to where we are playing to the standard that we are supposed to play at,” said Josh Niblett, coach of the Buccaneers. “There are things that happen during the game that we can’t control. But there are things we can do. We can control our discipline and our attitude and our ability to play with great effort. This team could be a really special group. But we’ve got to play with discipline and to a standard and continue with that we over me mentality. If we do that, we are going to finish this thing like we want too.”
Prattville – despite coming up short in the end – struck first. Quarterback EJ Ousley connected with Kameran Shanks over the middle for the score with 3:12 left in the opening period. With the point after, the Lions led 7-0. Ousley finished the night with 296 yards passing. Shanks caught seven passes for 196 yards.
Hoover answered with a 41-yard touchdown run by Ahmari Williams. The run saw Williams (who finished the night with 126 yards rushing) take the handoff from quarterback Bennett Meredith and bowl his way through the Lions defending, running out of several tackles for the score. The point after tied the game at 7-7.
The Lions answered the score with a 42-yard pass to open the second stanza, moving them down to the Hoover 8. Ousley – on first and goal – flared a pass out to a Lion receiver inside the 5-yard line, only to have it bobbled and picked off by Paul Thompson. Thompson found the handle on the pass and turned it into a 90-plus yard house call, putting the Bucs up 14-7.
Meredith – who threw for 219 yards and three scores – tossed back-to-back dimes in the second quarter: the first a 56-yards strike to Lamarion McCammon, the second was a 32-yard strike to Jabari Gaines.
Wallace: “We made about three or four mistakes that gave them momentum and put us in a bad position and they did what they were supposed to do: took it and ran with it. There were some plays made tonight on both sides in this stadium that were fun to watch. But we’ve got to take what we did and go back to work.”
With the lead well in hand, Hoover’s defense put the end zone on lockdown. Prattville drove down to the 10 but were unable to punch the ball in opting for a pair of 27-yard field goals.
At the intermission, the Bucs led 28-13.
Prattville drove down a third time, but was turned away, opting to kick a third 27-yard field goal with 5:31 left to play and the score 28-16.
Hoover scored late: Meredith connected with Sky Niblett from 12 yards out to move the mark to 35-16.
Prattville – in the waning moments – threatened to score a touchdown from the 6. Successive incomplete passes, though, doomed their efforts as Hoover took over after the turnover on downs and kneeled the ball to end the game.
The Bucs – next week – will tangle with Hewitt-Trussville, while the Lions will face Enterprise.
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