Renewed Local Rivalry is Decided Early
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The American Christian Academy Patriots met the Tuscaloosa County Knights Friday night for the first time since 1992 in what was expected to be a tightly contest contest between Tuscaloosa's best teams in their respective divisions.
The contest was not as close as many expected with the Patriots jumping out to an early lead in the first quarter en route to a 35-0 shutout of Josh Wrights' Knights. However, both teams continued to play hard throughout the contest and the only points scored after the initial 28-point quarter came with 1:09 left in the game.
The game began with T.A. receiving the opening kickoff, but after being stopped on third down were forced to punt. In the ensuing drive, ACA sophomore quarterback Kai Young found junior running back Davis Dare streaking wide open down the middle of the field for a 52-yard strike to open up the game.
This was only the beginning of the Knight's issues because on the following kickoff sophomore Cade Durnett forced a fumble to give ACA coach Cody Martin's team the ball in scoring position. Young went on to find senior wide receiver Carson Sute in the end-zone to put ACA up 14-0.
American Christian would stop Tuscaloosa Academy on its following drive and force a punting situation to get the ball back. After a few quick passes from ACA to start the drive, Young delivered a perfect pass to junior wide receiver Bubba Lester for a 67-yard bomb to give the Patriots a three-score lead before the first quarter ended.
History repeats itself, however, as on the following kickoff T.A. once again fumbled to give ACA the ball in scoring position. Soon after, Dare found himself breaking tackles and eluding defenders on a 22-yard run into the end-zone.
After a thrilling first quarter to start the game, things settled down as both teams struggled to sustain drives in the second quarter until Young threw an interception to T.A. senior safety Sherabiah Jones to give the Knights the ball in Patriot territory.
Sophomore quarterback Preston Lancaster attempted to get the Knights on the board but tough defensive backs for ACA prevented two would be touchdown passes from being caught. Wright decided to go for it on fourth down but did not convert as Dare picked off Lancaster to halt the drive. Lancaster finished the game with 153-yards passing and 42-yards on the ground.
The second half saw both teams moving the ball exceptionally well, but neither team could find the end-zone until with 1:09 left in the ball game, freshman running back Clayton Rice scampered his way in on a 12-yard run.
Young finished the night with 296 passing yards, 76 rushing yards and three total touchdowns.
When asked about his young quarterback Martin said, "he's mature beyond his years and we trust him to make the throws."
Tuscaloosa Academy's failure to produce on offense could be explained because of the number of injuries and cramping that affected his team throughout the game. Both sides saw players coming off the field during the game because of the intense heat and humidity.
However, Wright does not believe this to be the case and said, " we came out...not mentally prepared and that's on me. I got out coached....they came out ready to swing and we did not respond."
Dare earned player of the game honors finishing with 114 all-purpose yards, two touchdowns and the interception to stop T.A.'s closest possession to score. Dare said that his offensive line and burst out of the backfield give him the edge to have such a great impact on the game tonight.
American Christian Academy will travel to face Holt next Friday.
Tuscaloosa Academy will go on the road to face Aliceville.
Both competitions next week will be region games.