Demopolis Spoils ACA’s Home Opener
Week 1 of the Alabama high school football season started off with a bang. The Demopolis Tigers beat the American Christian Academy Patriots in a nail-biter that was a battle until the final whistle. Both teams played admirably but in the end, the Tigers clawed their way to a 29-20 victory.
Coming into this game, the Tigers and the Patriots have only ever played three times in their team's history. The Tigers have won all three matchups including a 41-16 blowout last year in Demopolis. Before the game, American Christian Academy was fired up to get their revenge on their home field in front of their fans.
After the national anthem and the Patriots deferring to the second half, the game and the 2023 high school football season were underway. Demopolis got the ball first and started running the ball and controlling the line of scrimmage. The Tigers started the game on an 18-play, 61-yard drive that went all the way down to the ACA 26-yard line and were coming up on a fourth down. On fourth and long, quarterback Kevin McLeroy tried to make a play but the Patriots defense made a crucial stop.
The Patriots had all the momentum and they ran with it on their first drive of the game. On the first play for the ACA offense, wide receiver Davis Dare went into the wildcat formation and ran for a 74-yard touchdown. The Patriots were rolling
Demopolis settled themselves and went back to running the football. Tigers running back Kee-Shawn Rowser and the offensive line could do whatever in the trenches. Due to the dominance of the Tiger's run game, the team drove down 67 yards which was capped off by a touchdown run by McElroy.
To start the second quarter, Demopolis continued its dominance by forcing ACA to go three and out. Luckily for ACA, the punter backed upped the Tigers all the way to their own 21-yard line. The Tigers responded with a quick 22-yard pass from McElroy to Daylan Jackson, then ran the ball three times in a row. The Patriots had a chance to get off the field and be set up with a prime position at the 50-yard line. On fourth-and-four, Demopolis ran the ball a fourth time and Rowser ran for 46 yards before being stooped at the goal line. Just like last time, McLeroy capped off the impressive drive by scoring from one yard out.
The Patriots have just been blindsided and need to have a long drive that ends in points. To end the half, ACA went on an 11-play drive for 50 yards and set up their kicker in prime position to make a field goal. Sadly for Patriots fans, the kicker missed and went into the half with the Tigers leading 14-7.
Most teams would lay up and let the other team step over them, but not ACA. Only down by seven with the ball to start the second half, ACA went on a 12-play, 75-yard drive that this time ended with points. On second down in Tigers territory, quarterback Kai Young threw a rainbow to Bubba Lester in the right corner of the end zone, making it a one-point ballgame.
This is the time of the game that this game becomes pure chaos on both sidelines. Demopolis, on their own 20-yard line, pass the ball to their receiver, who catches the ball but then is stripped by Eric Hines of ACA. Now, ACA has the ball on the Tigers ten-yard line. Young throws an interception to Jake Bumgarner on the next play. Demopolis gets another chance at a drive backed up in their own end zone. On the very next play, Rowser fumbles and gives it back to ACA.
To end the madness, ACA is on the Tigers four-yard line and scores a touchdown after Young throws a four-yard pass to Dare to take the lead.
The Tigers on their next drive go three and out but in a rare circumstance, the team actually punts the ball. This out-of-the-ordinary play call by coach Tucker paid off as the Demopolis punter backed up ACA to its own one-yard line. ACA tries to go wildcat again with Dare but the Tigers sniff it out and Demopolis eats into the lead with a safety.
Due to safety rules, Demopolis gets the ball back and tries to run the ball all the way down the field. This strategy does not work so coach Tucker fakes out the Patriots special teams unit and the punter threw a ball to an eligible receiver. The pass was incomplete but the ACA player who was covering the Demopolis receiver got there early and got called for pass interference.
The fake punt changed the momentum for the rest of the game.
Demopolis capitalizes on this lucky break by scoring another rushing touchdown. On fourth down in heavy formation, Roweser breaks off another big run and scores a 24-yard rushing touchdown, the first of the year for Rowser.
On the ensuing kickoff, the ACA special teams fumbles and gives the ball right back to Demopolis responds by throwing an interception to Cade Durett and the Patriots defense. ACA does not capitalize on this golden opportunity and gives the ball right back to Demopolis. The Tigers responded by icing the game with a passing touchdown. On the Patriot's 49-yard line, McElroy steps back looks deep, and finds Jackson for a 51-yard touchdown pass.
Demopolis gets off on the right note this year with a 1-0 record going into Week 2. Next week the Tigers get to go home and host the Jackson Aggies who had a bye week. The game will start a 7 p.m. CST in Demopolis, Ala.,
"I thought our kids played hard, we missed some opportunities and made some bad play calls," said American Christian Academy head coach Cody Martin. "I mean Demopolis is a really good team and Coach Tucker is a legend over there, to go out and fight out there I am super proud of them (ACA). At the end of the day, this does not hurt our playoff aspirations, it's just good work versus a good team."
Next week, the ACA road does not get easier as they travel to play the Tuscaloosa Academy Knights (1-0).
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