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Hussey-led Lowndes goes back-to-back as Class A Champions, defeat Jackson 24-8

Story by Griffin Pritchard | Publisher

Photos by Sandie Free | CAScoreboard Photographer

CRAMTON BOWL (Montgomery) – With 30.0 left in the game, the Lowndes Academy Cheerleaders came to life chanting “back-to-back, back-to-back”. The student section joined in and then the familiar chords of Queen’s “We are the champions” roared. On the field, Lowndes Academy had just given the ball back to Jackson with seconds left in the game. The Eagles – down 24-8 – ran one play and then another but were unable to move the ball, ultimately throwing an interception and giving the Rebels possession and the win. The Rebels behind the play of junior quarterback Clayton Hussey (115 yards passing and 117 yards rushing) held on to defeat Jackson Academy for the second year in a row, winning the AISA Class A State Championship in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history.

“We told them before the game that if you wanted respect to go and get it today,” said Shane Moye, coach of the state champion Rebels.

The Class A State Championship rematch picked up where last year’s ended with both teams trading body blows but neither being able to gain much ground. The Rebels outgained the Eagles 162 to (-)5 but struggled in the short-yardage situations. Both squads were faced with fourth and short scenarios and neither was able to gain ground leading to turnovers. The fourth downs weren’t the Eagles’ only struggle, turning over the ball four times (three fumbles and an interception).

Moye: “We keep fighting. We’ve been down a few times this season, but we keep fighting. We were down 8-7 (Thursday) but we kept battling and we just got it done.”

Lowndes – late in the opening quarter – scored on a 19-yard touchdown run. Hussey, the beating heart of the Rebels’ offense called his own number and raced into the end zone after losing a defender with a fake option pitch.

With the kick, the Rebels pushed ahead 7-0 and defended the lead through the first half.

After the intermission, the Rebels came out on the offensive, fielding a loose ball on the kickoff. The Rebels turned it over on the next play giving Jackson control of the ball.

The Eagles – who lined up the I formation after spending most of the day operating out of Shotgun – marched down the field using a mix of runs and long passes from Huntley Dees to Joseph Barnes and Cameran Thomas. The Eagles ended the drive on a scrambling throw for a touchdown. Dees – flushed out of the pocket and approaching the sideline – tossed a pass into the end zone. Barnes separated enough for the defender to reel it in for the touchdown.

The Eagles converted the two-point play on a Cain Richardson run to go up 8-7. Dees finished the night throwing for 183 yards on 11 completions.

The lead was quickly answered by the Rebels. Noah Smith broke free on a 40-yard reception and ran into the end zone for the score with 7:58 left in the third period. Lowndes – despite failing to convert the two-point try – jumped ahead 13-8.

“They played as hard as they could,” said an emotional Jacob Webb, coach of the Eagles, after the game. “They played their tails off. This group of seniors is the winningest group in school history. They didn’t win the championship but I couldn’t have been prouder of them if they had. They deserved more out of me today.”

Jackson – with under five minutes to go in the period – strung together a drive but failed to convert a fourth and short inside the Rebels’ red zone. The Eagles’ defense held and put the Rebels in another 4th and one. With Hussey back to punt, the signal-caller pulled down the snap and took off on a first-down run.

Moye: “That was not called. I’m not going to take the credit. Clayton has the option if he sees a lane to do it. I had just got on to him for throwing to the wrong person, making the wrong read; chewed him out. Then he does that. I looked at him and said ‘aight, you made up for it’”.

He dialed up another quarterback run that moved the Rebels across midfield and inside the Eagles’ 10.

After a series of short runs set Lowndes up inside the Jackson 1-yard line, Hussey faked the handoff and raced around the end and into the end zone for the score. With the two-point conversion, the Rebels moved ahead 21-8 heading into the fourth quarter. Watters Box split the uprights on a 36-yard field goal to push the Rebels ahead 24-8. That turned out to be the final as the Rebels were able to turn away Jackson late.

Lowndes Academy finished the season 10-2 and was the first of three AISA State Champions to be crowned as part of the AISA Tripleheader Championship.

Founder/Publisher of Central Alabama Scoreboard. Former sportsguy, and managing editor.

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