Piedmont comes back to win 3A state championship

College Sports

AUBURN – Piedmont’s Bulldogs (14-1) outscored Mobile Christian 19-7 in the fourth quarter Thursday, including the game-winning touchdown with 35 seconds remaining, to eke out a 26-24 victory as the second day of the 2019 AHSAA Super Seven State Football Championships opened its second day of championship action at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
    Senior Jakari Foster snagged a 27-yard strike from freshman quarterback Jackson Hayes to pull out the Bulldogs’ fourth state title since 2009.  The play culminated an 11-play, 66-yard march that started with only 3:25 remaining.
    Mobile Christian (9-5) led 17-7 heading into the fourth quarter thanks in part to quarterback  Kason Lincke’s strong passing arm. Jackson Chandler opened the scoring on the Leopards’ first drive of the night with a 27-yard field goal for a quick 3-0 lead. Lincke then connected with Nick Ellis for an 85-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter to increase the lead for Coach Ronnie Cottrell’s team.
     Hayes capped a 14-play, 64-yard march on Piedmont’s first possession of the second half with a 2-yard keeper for a touchdown to cut the Leopards’ lead to 10-7. Mobile Christian followed with a six-play, 64-yard drive of its own to extend their lead to 17-7 when junior Deontae Lawson bulled his way into the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the 2 with 26 seconds left in the third quarter.
   Coach Steve Smith’s Bulldogs answered quickly with Hayes, who was 13-of-29 passing for 204 yards and two touchdowns, found sophomore Austin Estes open for an 81-yard TD connection on the first play of the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 17-14. Piedmont got the ball back two minutes later and drove 59 yards for a go-ahead score. Hayes scored the touchdown on the drive’s eighth play on a keeper from the 3-yard line and Piedmont got led 20-17.
    The final seven minutes was filled with one clutch play after another by both teams. Mobile Christian pounded out s nine-play, 57-yard march to retake the lead 24-20 when Lawson scored again on fourth and goal from the 1 with 3:25 left to play.
     Taking over at their own 34 after the following kickoff, Hayes then methodically drove the Bulldogs to the winning score – with nine straight rushing plays highlighted by runs of 8, 7 and 10 yards by Elijah Johnson to set up the winning TD pass from Hayes to Foster.
      The Leopards were able to move the ball in the final 35 seconds to the Mobile Christian 42-yard line but Lincke’s final pass was intercepted by Hayes – in the secondary for the first time in the game – with one second remaining.
      Hayes earned Class 3A Championship Game MVP honors with 55 offensive plays out of the Bulldogs’ 79 total plays and accounted for 305 of Piedmont’s 395 total yards. He also had a hand in all four touchdowns. Johnson had 91 rushing yards on 22 carries, Austin Estes had six pass receptions for 114 yards  and Max Mohon had four punts for  37-yard average and two pinned the Leopards inside their own 20-yard line. Piedmont had a 79-48 advantage in offensive plays and had 395 total yards to the Leopards’ 325.
     Lincke was 14-of-23 passing for 254 yards and one TD for Mobile Christian. Ellis had two catches for 120 yards and Toler Keigley had four catches for 67 yards. Kendrick Boutwell also had four punts for a 41.5-yard average.
    Defensively, Landon Smart had five tackles and two assists to pace Piedmont. Trey McFarland also had five tackles and senior Bryson Ingram was in on seven tackles with one sack two stops for losses. 
    Tate Moore had eight tackles and three assists and Lawson, a junior, had six tackles and seven assists. Zhivago McNeil was also in on 10 tackles. Piedmont and Mobile Christian met in the 2016 3A championship game with the Bulldogs winning 22-12.
      Play continues in the Super 7 Thursday with defending state champion Mars Hill Bible (14-0) vs. Lanett (13-0) in the 1A championship game at 3 p.m. The Class 5A title game features defending state champ Central of Clay County (12-2) and Pleasant Grove (13-1) at 7 p.m. Friday’s schedule has defending state champion UMS-Wright (13-0), riding a 32-game winning streak, and Jacksonville (12-2) squaring off in the 4A finals at 11 a.m., followed by defending state champion Fyffe (14-0), with a 29-game win streak, meeting Reeltown (13-1) in the 2A championship game 3 p.m., and Oxford (13-1) meeting Spanish Fort (9-4) in the 6A finals at 7 to close out the Super 7 Championships.

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