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Simmons powers Wildcats to win

Colton Simmons piled up 218 yards rushing and scored five touchdowns to lead the Tharptown Wildcats to an impressive season-opening 48-14 win over the Shoals Christian Flame Friday.

It was the first high school sporting event in Franklin County since mid-March when the AHSAA shut down spring sports because of the coronavirus. Pentup demand for watching a live football game was evident early on as crowds of fans from both schools lined up to get inside the gates.

Each fan had to have a mask on to get a ticket. Bands were set up on the track on each end of the football field to make more room in the stands for fans to social distance.

“It was great to get back on that field, for me and especially the players,” said Tharptown head coach Kevin Lacey. “The guys have worked really hard and have done all the right things, and it paid off tonight. It was a little sloppy, but we were able to make some big plays and get on top early.”

For a moment it looked like the game wasn’t going to happen, as a powerful thunderstorm popped up in the Russellville area and began to expand. The game was delayed for about 45 minutes because of lightning.

As the rain continued to fall, however, captains met at midfield for the coin toss and soon kicked off the 2020 high school football season.

Both teams put the ball on the ground early because of the weather conditions. The ball hit the ground nine times in the first half alone.

Tharptown got its first score midway through the first quarter on a 45-yard run by Dominic Baker. Blake Daily added the point after to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead.

Simmons recovered a Shoals Christian fumble with 5:05 to go in the first quarter.

The Wildcats were able to pick up nine yards on two fumbles of their own during the drive that eventually led to an 11-yard score by Simmons.

Daily’s PAT gave the Wildcats a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter Tharptown took advantage of another Flame miscue. The Shoals Christian punter dropped a punt attempt, which was scooped up by Baker. Baker, a little confused, headed in the wrong direction. He was quickly redirected by his coaches and teammates, turned around and landed in the end zone for his second score of the night, giving Tharptown a 20-0 lead.

On Tharptown’s next drive, Simmons raced around the right side and sprinted 67 yards for his second touchdown of the night, giving the Wildcats a 26-0 with 10:15 to go in the half.

Later on in the half, Daily intercepted a Shoals Christian pass, putting Tharptown in scoring position. Simmons later walked into the end zone from four yards out. Nathan Lucas scored the twopoint conversion to give Tharptown a 34-0 lead going into halftime.

Simmons added two more touchdowns in the second half to give Tharptown a 48-0 lead.

Shoals Christian scored two touchdowns late in the game.

Tharptown opens the season 1-0. The Wildcats will host Phillips Friday night.