Handley got a taste of its own medicine Friday night, and the result was a 40-21 win for the Volunteers of Clay Central in the regular season finale for both teams.
Handley has thrived on big plays in the running game from Devontae Houston all season, but Central showed that its big-time running back was capable of multiple big plays of his own.
Quentin Knight rushed for 221 yards and five touchdowns on just 13 carries, delivering touchdown runs of 44, 62, 46, and 36 yards in the second and third quarter as Central blew open what was once a 19-14 ballgame.
Knight had a 3-yard touchdown run to start the game and give his team a 7-0 lead, but after that he was a one-man wrecking crew. His five touchdown runs accounted for all but 30 of his rushing yards in the game. He was so efficient at finding the end zone that Central ran just 29 offensive plays, compared to 69 plays for the Handley offense.
Houston found the yards much harder to come by as he posted a workmanlike line of 31 carries for 103 yards and a touchdown. His average of 3.3 yards per carry was the lowest in any game this season, a testament to the physical nature of the Central defensive front seven, led by Davion Phillips and J.D. McNealey.
Houston’s yardage total left him 17 yards short of setting the Handley school record for rushing yards in a season. He now stands at 2,035 yards for the year and should easily break Stacy Garrett’s 1991 school record of 2,052 yards next week against West Blocton.
Central’s other touchdown came on a 61-yard pass play from Boyd Ogles to Javon Wood early in the second quarter. It’s the 11th time that duo has connected for a touchdown this season. Ogles finished with 115 passing yards after completing 4-of-5 attempts.
His Handley counterpart had a solid night as well. Tigers quarterback Evan Cofield connected on 12-of-20 pass attempts for 155 yards and a 36-yard touchdown to Dylan Brooks. Cofield also finished as Handley’s second-leading rusher in the game as he got 40 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
The win is the third straight for Central in this young rivalry between the schools from two neighboring counties. The Vols now lead the overall series 6-2. Handley is one of just two opponents that Central has played every year since it opened its doors in 2012, with Munford being the other.