Blue Devils bounce past Boaz

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By Ricky Smith/Sand Mountain Reporter

Entering the Etowah game Friday, the Boaz Pirates still had hopes of winning its last two region games and clinching its first-ever region title. Those hopes were quickly dashed as Etowah jumped out to a 20-0 halftime lead and never looked back in a 40-14 win at BHS.

Etowah improved to 5-3 overall and 5-1 in region play. The Blue Devils host Madison County next week in a game that will determine the No. 2 seed from the region.

Boaz fell to 5-3 overall and 4-2 in Class 5A, Region 7 play. With the loss, the Pirates are guaranteed to finish fourth in the region standings and will travel in the first round of the playoffs to face the Region 6 champion.

Etowah used a potent running game led by Paul Ruiz, who rushed for 205 of the Blue Devils’ 332 yards on the ground. Ruiz gained his yardage on 23 carries. He rushed for two touchdowns and had one receiving. 

Quarterback Andy Noles threw two touchdown passes while completing 8 of 11 passes for 53 yards.

Etowah earned its 20-0 lead on an 8-yard touchdown run from Ruiz with 7:55 left in the first quarter, a Caleb Horton 13-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter and a Noles-to-Ruiz 2-yard touchdown pass with 14 seconds left in the half.

Boaz took the second- half kickoff and drove 69 yards for its first points of the night. Smith connected with Trey Willoughby on a 25-yard touchdown pass with 9:14 left in the third.

G.Q. Hardwick caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Noles on the ensuing possession to push Etowah’s lead back to 20 at 26-6.

Ruiz scored on a 54-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter and Colton Daugherty returned a Smith interception 81 yards for Etowah’s final touchdown with 8:17 left in the game.

Boaz followed with a 13-play, 80-yard drive to close out the scoring. Smith threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Sanders with 2:30 left. Smith threw to Willoughby for the two-point conversion. 

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