Wadley got a firsthand experience of what it's like to try to run the football against Randolph County, and RCHS overcame a mistake-filled night with some big plays as the Tigers defeated the Bulldogs 30-8 Friday.
Wadley's run-oriented offense was held to just 13 yards on 25 carries in the game, but Wadley made things difficult for RCHS early on.
RCHS forced a punt on Wadley's first possession of the game, and the Tigers' return man Dante Jordan took that punt back 73 yards for a 7-0 RCHS lead.
But while the Wadley run game was stagnant the Bulldogs found other ways to do their damage early on. Wadley's Caden Messer blocked an RCHS punt from its own end zone, and the ball went out of bounds under the goalpost for a safety to cut the RCHS lead to 7-2. On the ensuing Wadley possession the Bulldogs took to the air to move down the field as quarterback Lakevian O'Neal connected with receiver Jonathan Poole for plays of 35 and 17 yards, the latter of which resulted in a Wadley touchdown and an 8-7 Wadley advantage.
“I was happy about the way we responded,” said Wadley head coach Shenan Motley. “Wedowee stuck it in there early, and then we come back and get a safety right there, get the ball back and we go up on them. We played with them, and that’s what I was wanting us to do.”
That lead turned out to be short lived however. RCHS responded with a 59-yard drive that ended in Demarcous Woodgett's 6-yard touchdown run that put RCHS back on top for good.
Jordan added a 47-yard touchdown run before the half, and RCHS iced it with a 23-yard pass for six from Braxton Daniel to Woodgett. That play put the RCHS lead at 30-8 with just over eight minutes left in the game, Wadley muffed the ensuing kickoff and RCHS took over and nearly ran out the clock.
Jordan finished with 119 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries to lead the Tigers' rush offense.
Daniel, playing as a backup to injured starting quarterback Damarcus Davis, completed 5-of-6 passes for 92 yards and a touchdown.
“Hat’s off to Braxton. He did an outstanding job tonight too, for never playing quarterback,” said RCHS head coach Pat Prestridge, who said he tried to keep things as simple as possible with his advise for Daniel. “Don’t do anything stupid. Just hand the ball off. And if you get in trouble throw it to somebody,” he said.
RCHS won despite committing 15 penalties for 115 yards.
“You have one of those games every once in a while where you can’t do anything right, you get a lot of penalties,” Prestridge said. “So hopefully we’ve taken that out of our system a little bit and got that out of the way.”
O'Neal and Poole accounted for most of the offense for Wadley. O'Neal finished 4-of-6 passing for 85 yards, and Poole caught three of those balls for 69 yards and a touchdown.
“Lakevian is very poised,” Motley said. “He made some great passes tonight. Poole made some great catches tonight at key points in the game. Lakevian put the ball in the air and gave us a chance, and that’s about the only way we moved the ball on them.”
Wadley also finally discovered where it will play in the first round of the playoffs. The Bulldogs' loss to RCHS, plus Billingsley’s loss to Thorsby gave Notasulga the nod in the three-way tie for second place. Wadley dropped to fourth in the region and will travel to Isabella for its first-round playoff game next week.
“Isabella’s going to run the ball straight at you, about like what Randolph County does,” Motley said. “And I told the guys at halftime, we’re playing a 3A very good football team, and if we can stand up against them I truly believe we can play with anybody in 1A.”
RCHS will be at home against Midfield for its first-round game.