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Clutch fourth-quarter plays lift Clay-Chalkville past Hueytown to earn 6A title

By Josh Bean | For the AHSAA

     BIRMINGHAM – Everyone at the AHSAA Super 7 Class 6A state football championship game at Birmingham’s Protective Stadium Friday night expected Clay-Chalkville running back Edward Osley to get the ball.
     It didn’t matter.
     Nursing a six-point lead and facing fourth-and-1 at its own 45 with less than five minutes to go, Clay-Chalkville coach Drew Gilmeropted put the ball in his senior running back’s hands. It was an easy decision.
     “Did anybody doubt what we were going to do there?” Gilmer said. “We believe we’ve got the guys to make those plays. That’s what we’ve done all year. We’re not going to change anything.”
     Pressed later about whether he considering punting, Gilmer was direct. “No, never thought about it.”
     Osley ripped off a 20-yard run to keep the drive alive – and sequester Hueytown quarterback Earl Woods on the sideline a little longer. Meantime, Cougars QB Khalib Johnson threw a 36-yard touchdown to Mario Craver for the game-clinching touchdown two plays later.
     The late-game heroics earned the Cougars (15-0) a 46-42 victory over Hueytown (13-2) in Friday night’s AHSAA Super 7 Class 6A championship game. 
    “When it’s crunch time, somebody has got to make a play,” Craver said.

Clay-Chalkville’s Marquarius White (3) grabs reception as Hueytown’s Jakilyn Jones (2) defends (AHSAA Photo/Marvin Gentry)

     Clay-Chalkville won its first state championship since 2014 and third overall, while Hueytown (13-2) fell one win shy of winning its first football title. It marked the first time two Jefferson County Schools met in the finals of an AHSAA state football championship game.
     The Cougars handed Hueytown both of its losses this season, having also beaten the Golden Gophers 57-40 on Aug. 27 and Hueytown reeled off 13 straight wins heading into the rematch.
     Woods threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Vince Tucker to Friday’s championship game at 34-all with 8:09 to go. On the ensuing kickoff, Clay-Chalkville kicker Matthew Vasquez’s bouncing kick bounced off a Hueytown lineman and the Cougars recovered an unlikely onside kick.
     Hueytown coach Greg Patterson called the kick the game’s turning point. Gilmer said it wasn’t planned.
     “It just happened we hit one of them and it came back to us,” Gilmer said. “Better lucky than good, I guess.”
     Clay-Chalkville gained nine yards on three plays, leaving Gilmer with a decision to punt the ball back to Woods or go for the fourth down. He chose to give the ball to Osley.
     Osley finished with 28 carries for 152 yards and five touchdowns. He earned the game’s MVP award after scoring on runs of 33, 13, 2, 11 and 27 yards.
    Hueytown drove 71 yards in 13 plays after Craver’s touchdown catch, and Coleman scored on a 1-yard run with 20 seconds to play andJakheal Rower’s 2-point run made it 46-42.
     Clay-Chalkville’s Nathan Owens recovered Hueytown’s onside kick attempt to essentially end the game.
     “Most of the time we came out on the winning side this year,” Patterson said. “The two times we didn’t were against the same team.”
     The game featured two offenses averaging 48 or more points per game, and they didn’t disappoint in the final game of the 2021 Super 7. The three-day event drew a record attendance of 62,544, including 28,182 for Friday’s three games.
     Woods finished 26-of-44 passing for 246 yards, including a 66-yard TD pass to De’Andre Coleman and the 7-yarder to Tucker. Woods added 112 yards and a 2-yard TD run on 31 carries. Coleman tallied 15 catches for 149 yards and added two 1-yard TD runs.
     Johnson completed 15-of-19 passes for 251 yards and two touchdowns. Owens caught a 15-yard TD pass from Johnson, and Rowser scored on a 7-yard run and had eight catches for 83 yards. The two teams combined for 145 offensive plays, 45 first downs and 804 total yards.
     “What a night for high school football, especially in Jefferson County,” Gilmer said. “I couldn’t be happier. It couldn’t happen to a better group of young men.”
     “We never doubted ourselves,” Johnson added.

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