The Handley football team gathered along its sideline to hear head coach Larry Strain's post-game comments after the Tigers' 38-28 win over Munford. As they settled in, from somewhere in the stands a voice screamed out exactly what every Handley fan was thinking in that moment.
Meadows rushed for 289 yards and five touchdowns as Handley overcame a rough first half to win its region opener Friday at Wright Field in Roanoke.
Meadows was relentless with the ball in his hands and did not let a lost fumble in the first half slow him down. He scored from 36 yards out on Handley's first play from scrimmage, and never let up. He added touchdown runs of 38, 37, 9 and 24 yards and each one came at a crucial junction in a game in which the lead changed hands three times in the second half. Neither team led by more than four points in the last two quarters until Meadows's final touchdown gave Handley the 10-point cushion that proved to be the game-winning margin.
It was close throughout mostly because of the handiwork of Munford quarterback Ja'isiam Tuck. Every time Handley did something good on offense, Tuck was ready with the counter punch. The senior completed 15-of-27 passes for 199 yards, three touchdowns and an interception (which came on a desperation heave on his last pass attempt of the night). He also ran for 104 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
Tuck's good work had Munford ahead 20-18 at halftime, and his 45-yard touchdown pass to Rashard Russell with four seconds left in third quarter looked like it would give the Lions the lead going into the fourth quarter.
But that changed on the ensuing kickoff when Handley's Maurice Cameron shook off a couple of tackles and raced 84 yards for a touchdown as time expired in the quarter. Suddenly, Handley had a 30-28 lead and healthy shot of momentum going into the final frame.
Handley's defense saved its best work for the fourth quarter as it held Tuck and the Munford offense to minus-3 net yards and just one first down over three possessions to preserve the Tigers' lead.
Russell finished as Munford's leading receiver with three catches for 76 yards and two touchdowns.
Handley is off next week, while Munford will host Cleburne County.
RCHS 28, LaFayette 14
Wadley 39, Talladega County Central 8
Ranburne 1, Vincent 0 (forfeit)
Cleveland 35, Ranburne 7 (replacement game)
Clay Central 27, Sylacauga 22
Check out the print edition of the Randolph Leader next week for full coverage of all of these local games.