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After hauling in a pass from quarterback Ben Neill, Decatur High tight end Justin Bishop stiff-arms a Muscle Shoals defender during the first half of the Red Raiders' 55-14 win at Ogle Stadium on Friday night.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
After hauling in a pass from quarterback Ben Neill, Decatur High tight end Justin Bishop stiff-arms a Muscle Shoals defender during the first half of the Red Raiders' 55-14 win at Ogle Stadium on Friday night.

Another one for the wall
Red Raiders claim at least a tie for Region 8 crown

By Paul Stackhouse
sports@decaturdaily.com · 340-2460

On a night when Decatur could clinch a championship, the Red Raiders didn’t leave any doubt.

They scored a 55-14 home victory over Muscle Shoals on Friday night, clinching at
least a tie for the Class 5A, Region 8 championship.

Because Decatur (7-1, 6-0 in the region) holds all the tiebreakers, it will take the region’s No. 1 seed into the state playoffs.

In addition, the Red Raiders reached the magical seven-win mark, which means the coaches will put up the team picture in the Earl Webb Fieldhouse, marking this team’s legacy in school history for all time.

The Red Raiders did it with a healthy slice of sophomore quarterback Ben Neill, who completed 13 of 18 passes for 244 yards and four touchdowns.

He also rushed for a touchdown.

Afterward, he completed another pass — tossing the credit to his offensive line and receivers.

“I had all day to throw from the great blocking of our whole offensive line,” Neill said. “They gave plenty the time to set up and throw, and the receivers did a great job also.

“It was a special game for us tonight. We won it for the seniors. With seven wins, we get our picture on the (fieldhouse) wall. I know they wanted it bad, and they worked hard for it.”

Neill scored the first touchdown early in the first quarter, running 11 yards for the score. The Red Raiders went up 14-0 after Tyler Teague picked up a Muscle Shoals fumble and returned it 15 yards for a touchdown.

With less than a minute remaining in the opening period, Muscle Shoals cut the Red Raiders’ lead to 14-7 when Ashley Elliott ran 2 yards for a touchdown.

Decatur kicker Michael Schuster made it 17-7 with 10:13 left in the second quarter when he kicked a 19-yard field goal.

The Red Raiders carried a 24-7 lead into halftime after Neill completed a 28-yard touchdown pass to Cory Dodson.

On Decatur’s first offensive play of the second half, Dodson again was on the receiving end of a Neill pass with a 43-yard touchdown completion.

Neill continued Decatur’s offensive attack with a 55-yard touchdown pass to Justin Bishop and a 11-yard pass to Brooks Johnson for a 45-7 lead.

Schuster made it 48-7 going into the fourth quarter with a 24-yard field goal.

The Trojans’ final touchdown came on a 65-yard run by Avery Jackson.

Decatur’s Daniel Deffenbaugh scored the Red Raiders last touchdown on a 22-yard burst into the end zone midway through the final period.

Decatur finished with 487 total yards, 243 of which came on the ground. Muscles Shoals (3-5, 2-4) had 371 yards of offense with 217 coming from the passing game.

“We made some silly, sloppy mistakes early and gave them 14 points that killed us,” Muscle Shoals coach Curley Hallman said.

“You just can’t do that against a good team like Decatur. We got beat by a well-coached, good football team.”

Decatur coach Jere Adcock wasn’t totally happy with the Red Raiders’ performance in the first half.

“We didn’t come out with a lot of intensity like we should
have in the first half,” Adcock said.

“We challenged them at halftime to pick it up, and they answered the bell. They came out and handled it well and we had a great third quarter.

“I’m proud of that and I’m also proud of the fact that we got to play our younger players. We got to play everybody tonight.

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