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Second-half explosion fuels Autauga to Class AA championship

Autauga Academy State Champions

Story by Griffin Pritchard | Publisher

Photos by Brian Tannehill | Director of Photography

MONTGOMERY – At the start of this football season Autauga Academy Coach Bobby Carr was adamant that last year’s three-win season was an anomaly. Friday night he proved it, capping a 12-0 Generals march with a 52-35 win over Escambia Academy inside Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl.

“We couldn’t stop them; that’s the bottom line,” said Hugh Fountain, Escambia Coach after consoling his Cougars. “There were a couple of times I thought we might be getting back in it, but we never did.”

Autauga – to some – put the game away in the first quarter scoring twice to take a 12-0 lead. Carl Ligon capped a game-opening drive with a four-yard touchdown run. Robert Rose capped the quarter, connecting with Josh Palmer on a 67-yard touchdown catch-and-run.

“I’m proud of our kids,” said Carr. “We talk about family a lot at school and it’s amazing to see these kids who haven’t been together that long accept one another and learn to play for one another, great things can happen. This team is an example of that and I’m super blessed to be their head coach.”

The Generals were poised to score again only to have the touchdown toss negated by a holding call. Rose’s next pass was picked off by Escambia’s Landon Sims.

Sims – “Red” to the Escambia family – connected with Mailiki Haynes on a 30 yard pass and then – after a few short runs hooked up with Jacob Lee for the touchdown. The Cougars split the uprights on the point after and the score was more than halved, 12-7.

The Generals answered on the next drive. Rose hit Palmer for a gain of 12 and then the Cougars were hit with an illegal helmet contact (targeting without the review or ejection) penalty making it a 27-yard play. Rose and Ligon moved the ball into the red zone. Ligon broke free on a touchdown run, only to have it negated by a blindside block penalty.

Rose rolled out and connected with Palmer who stumbled and rumbled down to the Escambia 1 for a 35-yard gain. A short Ligon run capped the drive and put the Generals up 19-7.

Carr: “Carl is the best back in this state, best back in our association. Josh showed everybody  why he is a Division 1 prospect and he’s only a junior thank goodness. He’s a special player and a great kid. Can’t say enough about Robert Rose – he led this team all year. The kid’s done a phenomenal job of leading this team and getting everyone in the right position to have a chance to make a play.”

Bubba Nettles answered for the Cougars on the next possession; taking the handoff from Sims and (after channeling his video game avatar) broke free of the Generals defense and sprinted 80 yards into the end zone for the score. Sims added the kick and cut the mark to 19-14 with 3:27 left to play.

Rose tossed a half-ending dime to Palmer that (with the kick) put the Generals up 26-14 going into the intermission.

The Cougars – out of the break – brought the score to within five, bookending the drive with passes from Sims to Nettles and then to Brady Howell for the touchdown.

Fountain: “He’s done a great job for us all season, all three years that he’s played for us.”

Rose moved the goalposts a little further along, completing a 35-yard touchdown pass to Jaylen Anderson for the score.

On the next possession he completed a 23-yard touchdown pass to Anden Hilyer to put the Generals up 39-21.

Sims answered – stepping in and throwing a 33-yard dime. The Cougars – down 39-27 – kicked onside and recovered the fumble, but gave it again on a dropped lateral.

Rose – on third and long – scrambled out of trouble and into the end zone for 39 yards. To put the Generals up 45-27.

Escambia answers moving the mark to 45-35.

Ligon – though – put the game away on a 52-yard touchdown run.

Escambia had one more shot – but an interception gave the Generals the ball with 76 seconds left to play. 

Founder/Publisher of Central Alabama Scoreboard. Former sportsguy, managing editor, currently working for the City of Tallassee as a Public Information Specialist and grant writer.

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