Messenger fille photo by Chris McCarthy
By Jacob Cole/Florence Times-Daily
Etowah earned its third state quarterfinal appearance in the past four years with a 42-24 victory over Haleyville in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs last Friday (Nov.13) at Haleyville.
The Blue Devils host Northside of Northport on Nov. 20.
Etowah (8-3) held the Lions (8-4) to 67 yards offense in the first half while building a 13-3 lead. The Blue Devils opened the second half with a 97-yard touchdown drive – all on the ground – on the way to a 35-3 lead in the fourth quarter.
Trace Thompson’s 1-yard touchdown run capped Etowah’s nine-play, 97-yard TD drive. The Blue Devils added a 60-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Jarvis Hardwick at the end of the third quarter and a 60-yard touchdown run by Trent Davis early in the fourth.
“We struggled a little bit coming out of the gate and had a touchdown called back on a holding call, but from there, our defense did a great job of keeping their offense contained.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Ethan Foster gave Etowah a 7-0 lead with a 9-yard run with 8:25 left in the first half. The Blue Devils took advantage of a blocked punt, taking over at Haleyville’s 21, before scoring on a 9-yard run by Trent Davis.
Haleyville put together a 15-play, 61-yard drive that ended with a 32-yard field goal by Jacob Lolley with 33 seconds remaining before halftime.
Locke and his staff decided at halftime that the Blue Devils would control the tempo and run the ball on every play on the opening drive of third quarter, a 95-yard possession that resulted in a touchdown run by Trent Davis to make it 20-3.
“We were able establish the line of scrimmage while also wearing them down a little bit,”
Haleyville’s Eli Musso scored on a quarterback sneak with 6:59 remaining in the game. After Etowah answered with a 10-yard TD pass from Thompson to Ollie Finch, Eli Musso hit Kane Gravitt Tucker for a 61-yard scoring pass and Camden Smith added a TD run in the final minute.
“I thought our kids showed some resiliency and answered the call,” said Locke. “I also thought our coaches did a great job of preparing our kids and coming up with a great defensive game plan.
“Coming into this game, [Haleyville’s] three losses were all to playoffs teams, and two are still playing, so we beat a quality football team. Our kids showed a lot of character and class in a pretty physical ball game.”
For Etowah, Trent Davis rushed 14 times for 182 yards and two touchdowns.
Thompson was 7 for 15 in passing for 77 yards and a touchdown, NyNy Davis had four receptions for 50 yards and Foster gained 43 yards on seven rushes.
Locke said that the Blue Devils must bring their ‘A’ game this week against Northside, who last week defeated second-ranked Madison Academy in Madison.
“Obviously, they’re not unaccustomed to going into a hostile environment and pulling out a win. [Northside’s] kids play hard and their coaching staff does an excellent job. They have a lot of success in running the single wing [offense], a lot like Fyffe does, so our kids will have to answer the challenge again.”
Chris McCarthy contributed to this article