Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer|
Decatur High quarterback Ben Neill (3) evades Austin's Prentiss Taylor in first-half action of the Red Raiders' 10-7 win at Ogle Stadium on Friday night. Junior offensive lineman Tory Pelzer (79) provides support.
Decatur stingy to nip crosstown foe
By Brooke Milam
firstname.lastname@example.org · 340-2460
After four quarters of hard-fought football, the scene at Ogle Stadium on Friday night might not have been what was expected in a city rivalry between Class 6A Austin and 5A Decatur that has proven heated at times.
Decatur won 10-7 in a thriller and, with extra security on the field as a precaution, players and coaches from the crosstown rivals embraced, shook hands and shared words of encouragement.
Decatur offensive coordinator Kenny Morson patted Austin junior running back D'Nico Best on the shoulder pads.
Decatur junior receiver Pete Brown and fullback David Martin shook hands with Austin's junior quarterback Justin Jones.
Decatur head coach Jere Adcock shared a moment with Austin junior two-way standout D.T. Shackelford.
"I know we had a lot of respect for them and their athleticism," Adcock said. "They're as talented and well-coached a team as we've played all year."
Strong words coming from Adcock, whose Class 5A, Region 8 champion Red Raiders have faced J.O. Johnson and Russellville, which were ranked No. 1 and 2 in the state, respectively, when Decatur beat them earlier in the season.
Decatur, which leads the series with Austin 31-14, moved to 9-1 on the season. The Red Raiders will host Gardendale (6-4) in the first round of the 5A state playoffs next week.
Austin finished its season at 4-6.
"You had two football teams that battled tonight," Austin head coach David Norwood said. "This is what a rivalry should be. They put a quality product on the field, and I think we did, too."
Adcock said both teams had to work for their offensive yards Friday night, but it was his defense that proved the game-breaker.
"I've got to hand it to our kids because (Austin) gassed us, and our defense kept fighting," Adcock said. "They threw the ball a lot and ran us ragged, but our defense made plays when we had to make plays."
Amid many defensive heroics, Decatur's biggest defensive play of the night came with 1:40 left in the third quarter when senior Aaron Boykin intercepted an Austin pass near the Red Raiders' sideline and ran 72 yards for a touchdown.
"All I heard were my teammates behind me yelling, 'Go! Go!' " Boykin said.
Boykin's touchdown put Decatur ahead 10-0 heading into the fourth quarter of what was a scoreless game at halftime.
Michael Schuster had kicked a 45-yard field goal with plenty of distance to spare on Decatur's opening drive of the second half to put the Red Raiders ahead 3-0 before Boykin added to the advantage.
"I felt like everybody was so pumped on defense and giving it all they had that it would come down to a few plays, and we happened to make one more big play," Boykin said.
"It started up front with the defensive line doing what they had to do."
Not only did Decatur's defense post the Red Raiders' only touchdown in the win, but it also contained Austin's offense, which averaged 22.2 points a game coming in. The Black Bears had scored 21 or more in six of their other nine contests.
"I thought it might be low-scoring. I didn't think they could hold us to seven points, though," Norwood said.
Despite Austin's 429 yards of total offense, Decatur's defense kept the Black Bears off the scoreboard until the fourth quarter, when Justin Jones found favorite target Freddie Moore for the pair's most spectacular connection of the season — a 77-yard touchdown pass with 9:26 to play in the game that chipped into Decatur's lead and created the final three-point margin.
Norwood said both offenses played well in the first half, but mistakes hindered his team, which had three turnovers at halftime and finished the first half on a fumble.
"In the first half it was both offenses moving the chain, stall and punt; moving the chains, stall and punt," Norwood said. "Most definitely, we played better in the second half."
Adcock's Red Raiders also came alive on offense after the break.
"I think we played on our heels a lot in the first half," Adcock said. "We hadn't done a good job trying to take control of the game, but we settled down, challenged our kids at halftime. We got the win, and I'm excited about that, but I sure hope we're not through."
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