By Brant Locklier, East Alabama Sports Today
ANNISTON – Cedar Bluff ruined Donoho’s homecoming on Friday night, ended a five-game skid and advanced to the Class 1A state football playoffs in the process with a dominating 34-0 victory.
The Tigers (4-6) started the season ranked and were sitting at 3-1 before the bottom fell out. Injuries and other adversity created problems that saw them lose their last five games coming into the last week of the season.
Those losses dropped them into a 3-way tie for fourth place with Decatur Heritage and Gaylesville in Region 7. Decatur Heritage had the tiebreaker and had to be upset by Colbert Heights in its last game to give Cedar Bluff a chance to get in the playoffs with a win at Donoho.
On Thursday night, Colbert Heights pulled the 20-13 upset over Decatur Heritage and all of a sudden, Cedar Bluff had new life in a season they thought was probably over.
They got several players back from injuries for the Donoho game and the Tigers came in on a mission, while the Falcons (4-5) had already clinched a playoff spot.
Donoho will enter the state playoffs next Friday at Lynn. Cedar Bluff plays at 10-0 Meek.
“It has been a disappointing season for us. We have had to play several ranked teams and we have had injuries and are still not well, but we played our best game of the season tonight and we have a chance now,” Cedar Bluff coach Alan Beckett said. “It makes that grind we had that started in August and 10 regular season games worth it. We will now play undefeated Meek, but we’ve got a chance now.”
“We have to have people step up and match up physically and we did not do that tonight,” Donoho coach Jeremy Satcher said.
The first half belonged totally to Cedar Bluff. The Tigers took the opening kickoff 68 yards in 13 plays and scored when quarterback Kaden Pack threw a 24-yard fourth-down pass to Aden Green.
Pack also made an impact on defense with two interceptions.
The ensuing kickoff was recovered at the Donoho 30 and the Tigers had the ball again. However, the drive was snuffed out at the 30-yard line and the Donoho offense came on the field for the first time with 2:52 to go in the first quarter.
Four plays later, due to a penalty, the Falcons had to punt and once again the Tigers had the ball.
Donoho got a short second-quarter drive going from its own 14-yard line, but was stopped on downs in Tiger territory.
The Falcons forced two fumbles inside their own red zone to keep the score at 7-0 as the teams went in at halftime.
The Tigers erupted in the second half. They scored on their first possession on a 22-yard run by Kade Browning, who had 125 yards rushing on the night. Moments later, Logan Hampton blocked a Donoho punt and recovered the ball for a touchdown.
Hunter Jenkins exploded for touchdowns of 75 and 50 yards, and had a 73-yard run called back, to finish off the scoring in the second half. Jenkins had 203 yards rushing on 20 carries. The Tigers had 356 yards rushing as a team on 47 carries.
“Our line was just blocking great tonight and everybody was executing,” Jenkins said.