Tuscaloosa Academy Gets Emotional Win Over Clarke Prep
In Friday night's matchup of AISA AAA Region 2 rivals, the Tuscaloosa Academy Knights hosted the Clarke Prep Gators. Tuscaloosa Academy were looking to break its three-game losing streak as well as honor their fallen classmate. With heavy hearts, the Knights came out firing out on all cylinders.
Sophomore quarterback David McNeil made plays with his arms and as well as his legs. He threw for just over 200 yards on just nine completions including a 67-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Jake Standeffer. McNeil added 32 rushing yards and a four-yard score to his impressive first half. His rushing touchdown came after he intercepted Clarke Prep quarterback Jay Davis's pass in middle of the second quarter.
McNeil's favorite target, Standeffer added a rushing touchdown of his own right before halftime. The senior wideout's 33-yard touchdown brought the score to 28-0 going into half. Their T.A. defense played lights out holding the Gator offense to just 70 total yards and no scores during first half .
The Tuscaloosa Academy's offensive success didn't stop after the first half. They relied heavily on the run game to eat at the clock. Sophomore running back Tyler McNeal going early in the second half converting a couple of first downs. During the half we didn't see much of quarterback David McNeil, he was replaced by freshman QB Preston Lancaster. Lancaster was able to keep up the pace, throwing a 50-yard touchdown of his own to Jake Standeffer.
The Clarke Prep Gator offense was finally able to put points on the board during the third quarter as QB Jay Davis found Trace Strickland for a seven yard touchdown pass. On T.A.'s next possession, sophomore punter/kicker Brock Abston botched a punt and kicked it directly into the hands of the Gator defense, returning the punt for a touchdown. The return made the score 35-14 after a successful two-point conversion.
A few plays later, the Knights would answer back with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Preston Lancaster to junior wideout Luke Kilgore. This would be the final score of the game. The defense of Tuscaloosa Academy really came its own Friday night, holding the Gator to just 14 points. They got strong games out of linebacker Phillip Lancaster and defensive lineman Leon Sadler.
Fuller Goldsmith, a student at Tuscaloosa Academy, passed a few days before the game and memorialized by the Tuscaloosa Academy faithful before and after the game.
"Fuller touched so many lives. It was a emotional night. It's been a emotional past few days. I'm sure he's looking down from up above, smiling at tonight's win," said Tuscaloosa Academy head coach Josh Wright.
The Tuscaloosa Academy Knights will try to ride the wave of momentum going in next week's game against Morgan Academy and rest of the season as they fight for a playoff spot. As for the Clarke Prep Gators, they will rebound after this tough loss as they travel to Monroe Academy.