By Jason Bowen/Daily Sentinel
For all the anticipation and hype about a Class 5A No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup, Friday’s game ended like most of Scottsboro’s games this season – in a convincing victory.
The top-ranked Wildcats took control in the second quarter and took any remaining doubt away in the third quarter on the way to a 56-26 victory over second-ranked Etowah at SHS.
Scottsboro (9-0, 7-0) won the Class 5A Region 7 championship, its first since 2004, while scoring the most points an Etowah team has surrendered since 2009.
“What a game; I can’t say enough about our kids,” said Scottsboro head coach Patrick Nix, who improved to 2-0 against his alma mater. “The game was a lot more of a struggle than the score. That first half was an absolute battle. The adversity, the battling, [for the players] to walk back out in the second half and shut them [down] and them not stop us, just incredible.”
Scottsboro scored touchdowns on five of its seven first-half possessions and its first three of the second half. The Wildcats finished with 575 total yards, including 337 rushing yards on 41 carries, and 25 first downs.
Senior running back and Troy University commitment DeKarlos Billingsley ran for 222 yards and four touchdowns on 26 carries and caught three passes for 31 yards. Sophomore quarterback Bo Nix was 15-of-21 passing for 238 yards and two touchdowns while Cole Childress had five catches for 56 yards and a score and Austin Freeman had five catches for 82 yards. Nix also rushed for 90 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries
Etowah (8-2, 6-1) had 424 total yards, including 231 rushing on 41 carries. University of Arkansas commitment and Arab High transfer Daulton Hyatt was 7-of-15 passing for 187 yards and two touchdowns while adding 68 rushing yards on 11 carries. Caleb Horton and Cory Thomas rushed for 109 and 67 yards, respectively, for the Blue Devils.
Scottsboro started the scoring just over three minutes into the game on Billingsley’s 1-yard touchdown run and the first of Bailey McGaha-Potter’s eight PATs.
Horton’s 45-yard run helped set up his 15-yard touchdown run five plays later to tie the game, but Scottsboro went back in front 14-7 with 4:54 left in the first quarter on Nix’s 21-yard touchdown run.
Etowah got the next two scores on Hyatt touchdown passes of 66 and 49 yards to Andy Noles, the last of which came with 1:25 left in the first quarter.
Scottsboro regained the lead at 21-20 on the first play of the second quarter on Freeman’s 20-yard run on a reverse and Potter’s PAT. Billingsley scored on a 29-yard touchdown run on the Wildcats’ next possession, which came moments after Scottsboro stopped Etowah on a fourth-and-4 try from midfield. After Scottsboro snuffed out a fake field goal on Etowah’s next possession – Freeman tackled the Blue Devils’ Emil Smith just as he took the pitch from the holder Noles for a 13-yard loss – Nix hit Ethan Edmondson down the seam for a 58-yard touchdown pass with 2:09 left in the half.
Etowah took the ensuing possession and appeared to have an answering score, but Hyatt’s 11-yard touchdown run on fourth down was wiped out by a holding penalty. The Blue Devils were stopped on the next play and turned it over on downs.
Scottsboro then pushed its lead to 42-20 early in the third quarter on another 1-yard Billingsley touchdown run.
“Keeping [Etowah] out of the end zone, getting the holding call, right at the end of the half and then us scoring right at the start [of the third quarter] was huge,” Nix said. “Huge turn of events.”
Billingsley added a 25-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-2 on the Wildcats’ next possession for a 49-20 lead, and Nix threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Childress in the fourth quarter to up the Wildcats’ advantage to 56-20.
Thomas had a 3-yard touchdown run for Etowah with 6:50 left to close the scoring.
Etowah hosts a first round playoff game on Nov. 4.