Photo: Coosa Christian’s Grayson Malone (13) returns an interception as Kylen Johnson (1) blocks Lynn’s Jakob Shotts during the Conqueror’s 28-6 victory in the Class 1A state football playoffs on Friday, Nov. 17 in Gadsden. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Coosa Christian’s campaign through the Class 1A state football playoffs claimed another victim on Friday, Nov. 17 in Gadsden.
The Conqueror defense came up with four turnovers and did not allow a point during the game’s final 32 minutes en route to a 28-6 victory over Lynn. It marked the 10th straight game this season that Coosa did not allow double-digit points.
The Conqueror will host Hackleburg in the third round on Friday. Nov. 24. Coosa beat Hackleburg 51-8 in last year’s first round.
“We knew that [Lynn] played a lot of guys both ways, so by design we used a running back by rotation scheme,” said Coosa Christian head coach Mark O’Bryant. “That made a big difference, because you could see that [Lynn] was getting tired in the second half,”
O’Bryant was pleased with the win but viewed his team’s 11 penalties for 155 yards as unacceptable.
“That’s horrible, and I don’t know what the deal is with that,” he said. “We’re not going to change the way we play, which is to play hard until the whistle, but we’ve got to eliminate [the penalties] or it’s going to cost us down the road.”
Out of the Bears’ eight first-half possessions, three were three-and-outs and three ended in a turnover. Excluding a 37-yard run by Matthew Tittle during Lynn’s lone touchdown drive, the Bears managed just 38 yard of offense in the first half.
In the meantime, the Conquerors built a 21-6 advantage by halftime.
After the Coosa defense forced three-and-out possessions on Lynn’s first two possessions, the Conquerors took the lead for good at 4:14 of the first quarter. Taking advantage of good field position at the Bear 37, Coosa called seven straight running plays, the final of which was Josh Hester’s 2-yard touchdown run. Jadan Burns pushed through the first of his four extra points of the night for a 7-0 lead.
Another poor punt led to the next Conqueror score – a 3-yard touchdown run by quarterback John David Justus that made it 14-0 with 28 seconds left in the first period.
The Bears answered on the next possession with Tittle’s 3-yard TD run, but Kyle Johnson blocked the PAT to preserve the Coosa lead at 14-6.
Grayson Malone’s interception midway through the second quarter led six plays later to Hester’s second touchdown of the game, this one from 20 yards out with less than three minutes left until halftime. Malone had another pick in the second half, along with a sack, a fumble recovery and three pass break-ups.
The turning point came on Lynn’s first two possessions of the second half. A 10-play series took more than five minutes off the third quarter clock but only gained 36 yards to the Bear 49, where Lynn came up short on a fourth down conversion attempt.
Hester took it to the house on the next play from scrimmage for a 22-point Coosa lead.
The next Bear drive, which drained another six minutes off the clock, fizzled out at the Coosa 6 when Drake Dupree broke up a pass attempt on fourth down.
The Conquerors then put together 13-play possession that took them from the Coosa 6 to the Lynn 20. The series ended with a failed fourth down conversion attempt, but it kept the Lynn offense off the field for more than eight minutes and quashed any hopes for a Bear rally.
Lynn had a prime opportunity to close the gap late in the first half when Adam Talley came up with an interception at the Conqueror 19. The Bears came away empty, however, when Clete O’Bryant broke up a pass attempt at the goal line as time expired.
Hester finished with 113 yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries. Kanon Wilson added 52 yards on 15 attempts.
Justus was 5 for 12 in passing for 47 yards while rushing for 29 yards on 19 carries. Clete O’Bryant and Eli Motes both had two catches.
Defensively, Clete O’Bryant had 14 tackles and recovered a fumble. Drake Dupree and Cade
Mickler each had eight stops, followed by Hester with seven, Motes and Dylan Mackey with six each and Garrett Morgan with five.
“I’m really proud of the effort our kids gave tonight,” said Mark O’Bryant. “They played their hearts out, and we can’t ask for anything more than that. For the second year in a row, we’re blessed to be playing during Thanksgiving.”