Tallulah Academy advances in 8-man playoffs
By Alana Norris
Published 1:31 am Saturday, November 5, 2016
Humphreys Academy might have scored first Friday night against Tallulah Academy, but its five turnovers helped Tallulah score 40 straight points and take a 62-18 win in the first round of the MAIS eight-man division playoffs.
Tallulah’s Ryan Hodge rushed for 234 yards and five touchdowns, while Joshua Collins had 173 rushing yards to go with 49 receiving yards. Collins scored three touchdowns.
“We just worked together as a team,” Tallulah quarterback Luke Fortenberry said. “(We) Stopped all the arguments and kept our heads focused.”
Tallulah, the No. 1 overall seed in the eight-team playoff bracket, advanced to face Christian Collegiate in the semifinals next Friday. Tallulah (9-0) will host the rematch of last year’s eight-man championship game.
Christian Collegiate (4-4) beat North Sunflower Academy 52-40 on Friday night.
Turnovers killed Humphreys’ chances in Friday night’s game with the team losing three fumbles and throwing two interceptions. The Trojans converted points on three of the four turnovers. Tallulah never lost the ball.
“I think they’re (Humphreys) pretty young. You could tell,” Tallulah coach Joe Coates said. “They’ll have their year in a couple of years, and we’ll be struggling. In schools this small that’s the nature of the beast.”
The Rebels used two quarterbacks, switching between Justin Foxworth and Guice Hill. Hill completed 8 of 19 passes for 174 yards while Foxworth ran for 71 yards.
Walker Dunn had 125 receiving yards for Humphreys (6-6).
“Humphreys is a really good team. They have a lot of good players, but we just came out and we executed better than they did. We just finished the game,” Tallulah lineman Brandon Comans said.
The District 4-E rivals played each other during the regular season, with Tallulah winning 50-20 on Sept. 16. Seeing each other earlier in the season helped the Trojans know what to expect.
“It was a rematch,” Coates said. “We kind of knew what they were going to do, and they knew what we were going to do. It was just about who executed. We got off to a good start. They’re big in the middle so we stayed out of there and tried to beat them on the edge.”
It took Humphreys four plays to put points on the board. Hill passed to Dunn for a 50-yard touchdown and a 6-0 lead. Tallulah answered less than a minute later when Fortenberry passed to Collins for a 49-yard touchdown. Both teams’ two-point conversions were no good and the score stayed tied at 6.
The Trojans scored twice more in the first quarter, on an 11-yard run by Collins and a 15-yard run by Hodge, to make it 20-6.
In the second quarter Hodge ran 66 yards for a touchdown with 6:32 left. After the first interception of the night, a reverse from Fortenberry to Hodge to Collins resulted in an 81-yard rushing touchdown.
Soon after, the Trojans recovered a fumble and scored on a 27-yard run by Hodge to make it 40-6.
Humphreys broke the run with a 44-yard TD pass from Hill to Dunn on the last play of the half, but never got back in it.
“They came out strong, but we came out stronger. We were able to put more points up on the board and keep a good lead. We never let it slip away from us,” Fortenberry said.
Christian Collegiate (4-4) at Tallulah Academy (9-0)
Friday, Nov. 11, 7 p.m.
MAIS Eight-man playoffs, semifinals