Handley fell behind 14-0 and trailed 21-12 in the second quarter before scoring four unanswered touchdowns on their way to a statement win over St. James in a battle of highly-ranked teams in Montgomery Friday.
The offensive playmakers did their jobs in a big way for Handley as the Tigers, ranked No. 2 in the state in Class 4A, knocked off the 3A No. 3 Trojans 48-35.
Handley quarterback Cannon Kyles had the best game of his young career completing 9-of-17 passes for 205 yards and three touchdowns without an interception and adding 119 rushing yards and another touchdown on just three carries.
Kyles had his hand in two late second-quarter touchdowns that helped turn the game around for the Tigers. His 94-yard touchdown run with 2:47 left in the quarter cut the Trojan lead to 14-12. After St. James put together a quick score to rebuild that lead to 21-12, Kyles hit Devontae Higgins for a 37-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the first half to send Handley into the locker room with all the momentum.
They seized control of the game in the third quarter, scoring three unanswered touchdowns on a couple of touchdown runs by Jay Haynes and another long connection between Kyles and Higgins, this time for 82 yards. That burst put Handley in complete control at 41-21 late in the third quarter. Kyles added a 27-yard touchdown pass to Jamerqui Lewis to close out the scoring for the Tigers in the fourth quarter.
And speaking of Haynes and Lewis. Haynes finished with 107 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries and caught three passes for 50 yards. Lewis also had an 84-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that got Handley on the board in the first quarter after the Tigers fell behind 14-0.
Higgins finished with two catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns.
Handley is now 2-0 on the season and will take on Jacksonville on the road next week.
RCHS 36, Woodland 0
RCHS won its ninth straight game against county rival Woodland Friday and came away with a convincing win to put and end to a 9-game losing streak that ended their season a year ago.
The Tigers built an early 36-0 lead through the first two quarters, then sat on the lead to take the win by that same score in their 2022 season opener.
RCHS spread the wealth among its deep backfield as five different players found the end zone. Quarterback Avion Willis and running backs Austin Terrell, Christian Jefferson and Quin Johnson each scored on the ground, while Willis hooked up with Zack Caldwell for a 56-yard touchdown on the only pass attempt of the game for the Tigers.
RCHS is now 1-0 on the season and will host Childersburg in their region opener next week. Woodland falls to 0-2 with the loss. The Bobcats will host BB Comer next Friday.
Ranburne 14, Wadley 0
Wadley’s offensive woes continued, and Ranburne cashed in two turnovers deep in Wadley territory to score two first-half touchdowns and claim a 14-0 victory.
Wadley fumbled the game’s opening kickoff and set Ranburne up with a first down at the Wadley 18-yard line. Ranburne running back Kaleb Benefield covered that distance on a short reception and three runs, crossing the goal line from five yards out to give Ranburne a 7-0 lead.
Then in the second quarter Wadley lost a fumble at its own 29-yard line. Benefield and quarterback Kaide Mitchell took turns slowly covering that distance before Benefield scored again, this time from four yards out.
Wadley’s best scoring opportunity came on the final possession of the first half after a Ranburne fumble. Wadley reached the Ranburne 10-yard line in the closing seconds, but they were not able to get a pass away as time expired and the opportunity was lost.
Ranburne’s defensive front overpowered Wadley at the line of scrimmage and played a big part in the shutout. Wadley managed just 51 net rushing yards on 30 carries.
Benefield led Ranburne with 66 yards and two touchdowns on 16 tough carries. Garrett added 41 yards on 15 carries, and Carson Hall carried three times on the final possession as Ranburne was salting the clock. Hall broke loose for 43 yard rumble on his first carry and finished wit 51 yards on three runs.
Ranburne is now 1-1 on the season and will start region play at Fayetteville next week. Wadley falls to 0-2 with the loss and will travel to Spring Garden next week.
Benjamin Russell 33, Clay Central 14
Look for full coverage of all of these games in Wednesday’s print edition of the Randolph Leader.