Eagles upend top-seed Haleyville, advance to second round

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Courtesy of Florence Times-Daily

For the first time in nine years, the Hokes Bluff High School football team will participate in the second round of the postseason.
Landon Johnson threw for a par of touchdown passes and ran for another as the No. 4 seed Eagles (7-4) posted a 24-8 victory over No. 1 seed Haleyville in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs last Friday (Nov. 4) at Haleyville.
Hokes Bluff will host North Jackson in the second round this Friday (Nov. 11).
“We probably played one of our better games of the year, no doubt,” said Hokes Bluff head coach Mike Robertson. “We probably shocked [Haleyville] a little bit and were in control for most of the game. We pretty much stopped their running game early on, and once we got ahead they started to throw the ball a lot, which kind of worked in our favor. You don’t want to change what you do just because you’re in the playoffs, so we did we always do; run the ball a lot and throw a couple of passes here and there.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Andrew Colley got the visitors on the scoreboard with his 27-yard field goal at 1:14 of the second period.
Johnson’s first TD pass came at 7:02 of the third quarter, when he connected with Brayden Hill for eight yards. Colley made the PAT for a 10-0 Eagle lead.
With 36 seconds left in the period, Johnson and Darrian Meads hooked up for an 83-yard touchdown that along with Colley’s extra point provided Hokes Bluff with a 17-point advantage.
The Eagles received some breathing room by way of Johnson’s three-yard TD run and Colley’s PAT at the 8:34 mark of the fourth.
The Lions (9-2) avoided the shutout on Brady Sherill’s 4-yard touchdown run with 6:40 left in the game.
Johnson was 8 for 10 in passing for 193 yards and two touchdowns. Hill had four receptions for 36 yards, while Payton Moore caught three passes for 74 yards.
Meads rushed for 80 yards on 30 carries, while Levi Taliaferro carried six times for 54 yards.
“North Jackson is a very physical and well-coached team,” said Robertson. “They’ve lost four games, but every one of those losses were to high-caliber teams (Cullman, Scottsboro, Madison Academy and Buckhorn).”
This Friday will mark the first time since the 2007 season that the Eagles have hosted a postseason game.
“It really is rewarding, especially for our 17 seniors,” said Robertson. “They’ve had three tough years before this season, but they’ve stuck with it. As long was we played hard and to our potential [on Friday], I’ll be pleased.”
Chris McCarthy contributed to this article

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