Turnover swings momentum to help Demopolis down RHS

By Staff
Scot Beard
TUSCALOOSA – When things finally looked to be going Russellville's way during the Class 5A state championship game Thursday night, disaster struck.
The Golden Tigers had answered a Demopolis touchdown with a six-play, 65-yard touchdown drive to cut the deficit to 19-14.
Russellville's Ryan Romans forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and Ramano Craig recovered the ball for the Golden Tigers on the Demopolis 30-yard line.
Two plays later quarterback Joey Howe passed to Romans, who picked up two yards on the play before Demopolis' Anthony Hardy stripped him of the ball and returned it 74-yards for the game's final score with 2:31 remaining in the second quarter.
"Joey made a good throw and Ryan made a good catch," Russellville coach Doug Goodwin said. "He was fighting for yardage and one guy was holding him up and another came in and stripped him. It wasn't Ryan's fault."
The play was the first fumble return for a touchdown in a 5A Super 6 game and only the second fumble return for a score in all classifications.
It was a sour moment for Romans, who came up with several big plays for the Golden Tigers. He finished the game with three receptions for 10 yards, four rushes for 29 yards, 11 tackles and a blocked field goal.
For the second year in a row, the Golden Tiger defense allowed a Super 6-record performance by the opposing running back.
DaMarcus James set two 5A rushing records. He surpassed the total rushing yards record with 293 yards and the carries record with 42.
The previous rushing record was 194 yards – James had 201 yards by halftime.
"I'll give it to him, he's a good back," said Russellville linebacker Jacob Gist. "He can run."
It was a tough assignment for the defense, which had allowed an average of 198.4 total yards to opponents before Thursday's game.
"We didn't tackle well and DaMarcus James has got a lot to do with that," Goodwin said. "He's a great player and we knew that coming in. Man, he had a great game."
Brent Calloway opened the scoring for Russellville with a 5-yard run with 11:53 remaining in the second quarter. Jose Betancourt added an extra point to give Russellville a 7-0 lead.
Demopolis answered with a 3-play, 43-yard drive capped off with a 13-yard scoring run by James less than two minutes later. Spence Overstreet added the extra point to tie the game.
Demopolis struck again with less than a minute remaining in the half when quarterback Ben Pettus hit Larry Cobb for a 48-yard touchdown strike. Overstreet's PAT failed and the Tigers entered the locker room with a 13-7 advantage.
It was the first time the Golden Tigers have trailed since the third quarter of the Athens game in week nine of the regular season.
Demopolis added another touchdown on a 59-yard touchdown pass from Pettus to Jeremy Wallace. James was stopped short of the goal line on his 2-point conversion run.
Calloway added his second touchdown of the night on the following drive and Betancourt added the extra point to cut Demopolis' lead to 19-14.

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