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A week after setting the school record for points in a game, Handley’s offense found much more potent resistance in the defense of Booker T. Washington Friday in Tuskegee, and the result was a 22-9 defeat that gave Handley its earliest playoff exit since a second-round loss in 2019.
Big plays in the passing game undid Handley’s defense as BTW quarterback Elijah Hall completed 11-of-16 passes for 284 yards and all three Golden Eagle touchdowns. Handley’s defensive coaches and players will see the number four jersey of Golden Eagle receiver Marquez Daniel in their nightmares after Daniel caught seven passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns.
Handley had four possessions that took them inside the Booker T. Washington 20-yard line and only managed nine points out of those opportunities. A Landon Bozeman 33-yard field goal gave Handley a 3-0 lead after a solid opening possession, but the Tigers didn’t score again until their opening drive of the second half. Nemo Askew’s 8-yard touchdown run cut the BTW lead to 14-9 with 6:41 left in the third quarter and gave Handley some hope of a comeback. But Hall and Daniel went to work quickly on the very next offensive series and connected on a 42-yard touchdown pass down the sideline for what proved to be the final points of the game for either team.
It was an unexpectedly early exit from the postseason for Handley, which entered the playoffs as region champions and were taking on a BTW team that had finished third in its region. But the Golden Eagles boast several D1 prospects, including defensive lineman Joseph Phillips – a four-star Auburn commit – who had a big-time impact on the game defensively and was on the receiving end of Hall’s other touchdown pass offensively.
Handley senior running back E.J. Goss, who ran for over 300 yards and five touchdowns in the Tigers’ first-round win over St. Michael last week, was held to 63 yards on 18 carries and did not find the end zone.
Handley finishes the season with a record of 10-2. BTW advances to the third round where they will host Jackson next week.
Wadley set a school record for points scored in a game as the Bulldogs routed South Lamar 81-27 in their Class 1A second round game. Wadley scored three defensive touchdowns as part of a 61-point first half that left no doubt as to the game’s eventual outcome.
Wadley advances to take on Pickens County for the third year in a row at Pickens County. Wadley defeated the Tornados in the 2021 state semifinals, then lost to them in last year’s opening round game.
RCHS was eliminated in the second round at the hands of defending state champion St. James. The Tigers fell 41-6 to complete a 10-2 season.