By Mike Goodson/Sports Correspondent
Etowah clinched a second place finish in Class 5A, Region 7 with a 28-15 win over Boaz last Friday (Oct. 26).
The win assured the Blue Devils (7-2, 5-2) of home field advantage for the first round of the high school state football playoffs on Nov. 9. Boaz dropped to the fourth and final playoff seed.
“I was proud of the way our defense took over in the second half,” said Etowah head coach Sam McCorkle. “Our kids and our coaching staff did a good job. We knew we would stay home if we didn’t do that, and I am proud of our team.”
The host Pirates (6-3, 4-3) scored first on an errant field goal attempt on their first possession of the game.
Leonardo Aragon was called on to attempt a 22-yard field goal at the Etowah 5, but the snap was bad and Aragon pitched the ball to quarterback and holder Casey Wood.
Wood rolled to his left and delivered a pass to Brandon Holland, who caught the ball at the 3 and raced into the end zone.
Aragon added the PAT for a 7-0 Boaz lead with 5:29 left in the first quarter.
Etowah took the ensuing kickoff 45 yards in four plays to even the score when Tyler Bishop threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Tevin Peterson. Devin Horton added the PAT to tie the game at 7-7 with 3:25 left in the opening stanza.
Boaz moved the ball to the Etowah 25 late in the second quarter before the drive stalled, and Aragon missed a 43-yard field goal with six seconds remaining in the first half.
Etowah was penalized for a personal foul, however, giving Boaz one more chance from the Blue Devil 13.
Aragon lined up for a 30-yard field goal attempt, but Boaz ran a fake. Wood pitched the ball to Holland, who ran around right end untouched into the end zone with no time left on the clock. Aragon’s point after was wide, but Boaz led 13-7 at the half.
But The Blue Devil defense took over in the second half and held the Boaz offense in check the remainder of the evening. The Pirates went over 18 minutes of the second half without a first down and gained only three over the final 24 minutes.
Glen Williams intercepted Wood on the opening possession of the second half to set up an eight-play, 38-yard Blue Devil scoring drive. Devin Horton scored the touchdown on a 2-yard run with 7:07 left in the third period. Horton’s extra point put Etowah in front 14-13.
On the Pirates second play from scrimmage following the Etowah score, Wood bobbled the snap from center, and Etowah’s Zac Gamblin picked up the ball and ran 25 yards for the touchdown. Horton’s PAT made it 21-13 with 6:06 to go in the third period.
Etowah added a late score with an 11-play, 43-yard drive that culminated in Dominick Pinson’s one-yard scoring run with 6:33 left in the game. Horton added the point after for a 28-13 lead.
The game’s final points came when the Devils took an intentional safety with 1:12 remaining rather than punt the ball from their own end zone.
For Etowah, Bishop was 8-of-12 in passing for 107 yards. Horton had 40 yards rushing on 16 carries.
Wood was 19-of-34 in passing for 232 yards.
Etowah had a total offense of 206 yards (99 rushing, 107 passing), while Boaz totaled 260 yards (28 rushing, 232 passing).
Etowah closes out regular season play at Glencoe on Friday.