CEDAR BLUFF – All week long, Cedar Bluff football coach Alan Beckett warned his Tigers how talented a quarterback Decatur Heritage senior Bo Solley is. He described Solley as “a Johnny Manziel type.”
Solley proved to be as elusive as Beckett advertised. He completed 12-of-17 pass attempts for 375 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 91 yards on nine carries with two more scores as the Eagles bombed Cedar Bluff 43-21 in Class 1A, Region 7 action on Friday.
“He’s phenomenal,” Beckett said of Solley. “We knew that coming in and we worked against extended plays all week. We tried to fill lanes and he still got those plays. We told them over and over again he’s going to be better than you think.”
“Bo’s a gamer. I’ve been saying that since day one,” first-year Decatur Heritage head coach Nikita Stover said. “He’s going to be that guy who’s going to try to do anything he can to lead. He’s a point guard in basketball. He plays short (stop) in baseball. He’s that guy who wants to lead these guys to victory.”
And lead the Eagles (3-2, 1-2) to victory he did, and it put them right back in the region playoff race.
Solley got things going on the Eagles’ first drive of the night. He connected with Jaxon Thomas on a 53-yard touchdown pass just three plays into the game. Benjamen Abercrombie’s extra point provided Decatur Heritage a 7-0 advantage.
The Tigers (3-2, 2-1) answered with a 13-play, 59-yard drive that was initially a three-and-out. However, an Eagle offside penalty on a fourth-and-6 gave Cedar Bluff new life. Instead of punting, the Tigers went for fourth-and-1. Kade Browning gained five yards for a first down to keep the drive alive.
Nine plays later, Tiger backup quarterback Kaden Pack connected with Browning on a 9-yard touchdown pass. Carter Dillingham’s point after tied the game at 7-7 with 4:20 to go in the opening quarter.
Pack was filling in for an injured Bucky Leek, who sprained his ankle last week at Gaylesville. Leek came into the game for a series in the second quarter, but he did not finish the game.
“We definitely did miss Bucky, but I appreciate Pack stepping in there,” Beckett said. “I thought he did some good things. We put him in some tough positions just because we were behind the chains. That was tough on him.”
Pack connected on 7-of-21 pass attempts for 95 yards and a touchdown, but the top performer of the game was Solley.
Solley put the Eagles back out in front on their next drive in the first quarter. He hit Paxton Tarver on a 61-yard scoring strike to put Decatur Heritage up 14-7.
Solley proved nifty on his feet following a Tiger punt. On the first play of the second quarter, he dashed 78 yards for a touchdown. The extra point was no good, keeping the score at 20-7.
After Cedar Bluff failed to make a fourth-down play on its ensuing drive, Solley struck again through the air with Tarver, this time on a 44-yard touchdown pass to put the Eagles up 27-7 at halftime.
Tarver was the top pass catcher for the Eagles, hauling in five receptions for 143 yards and two scores. Thomas had three catches for 90 yards and a score.
Solley opened the third-quarter scoring with a 2-yard run with 5:59 remaining in the quarter. The Eagles added a safety on Cedar Bluff’s next drive to go up 36-7.
Decatur Heritage scored its final touchdown following the free kick when reserve running back Daniel Taylor Jr. ran in for 13 yards to put the Eagles up 43-7.
Hunter Stallings connected Byran Kinsey on a 17-yard scoring pass with 3:29 remaining in the game. Following a blocked field goal attempt late in the game by Carson Webb, Stallings returned it all the way to 4-yard line. Two plays later, Dylan Kinard scored with 40 seconds remaining. Dillingham connected on the extra point for the final.
Browning ran for 58 yards on 21 carries for the Tigers. Hunter Jenkins had 95 yards on just four totes, including an 84-yard run on his final carry in the fourth quarter. Eli McFry was Cedar Bluff’s top receiver, with three catches for 62 yards.
Cedar Bluff hosts Spring Garden in non-region action next Friday. Decatur Heritage hosts New Hope.