Courtesy of Madison County Record.
It was everything it was billed to be, and more.
What was thought to be an offensive shootout turned out to be a defensive chess match, as the No. 1 Hoover Bucs outlasted the No. 3 Bob Jones Patriots, 20-13.
The Patriots (8-2, 7-0) scored on the first play of the fourth quarter on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Zach Freeman to Collins Moore to take a 13-6 lead, but the Bucs (10-0, 7-0) scored twice in five minutes and then forced the Patriots to punt twice before running out the clock.
“We’re not in to moral victories,” Bob Jones head coach Kevin Rose told his team following the game. “We’ve got to get over the hump.”
Bob Jones’ offense sputtered out of the gate as Freeman’s first pass was nearly intercepted, but the Patriots defense came to the rescue and forced the Bucs to punt on the next possession.
After a roughing the passer call in the end zone extended the Patriots’ drive on the ensuing possession, the Bucs’ special teams stepped up with a big play when Montez Carlton blocked Freeman’s punt.
The Patriots defense answered the call, though, and forced the Bucs to kick a 34-yard field goal to put Hoover up 3-0.
“I thought we played excellent on defense,” Rose said.
Hoover nearly added a touchdown in the second quarter, but quarterback Ryan Carter overthrew a wide-open Jaylon Denson, and the Bucs were forced to punt.
The Patriots pulled out some trickery on the next possession as Freeman threw to Jeffrey Moss who then threw to Trai Ragland to get Bob Jones inside the 10-yard line.
The drive stalled, however, and Braden Hager nailed a 25-yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3 at the half.
On the Bucs’ opening drive of the second quarter, Carter’s pass to Jamare Gillard was tipped and intercepted by Bob Jones’ D’Marko Douglas.
The Patriots only managed a field goal off the turnover, as Hager nailed a 28-yarder to put Bob Jones up 6-3.
Bob Jones’ special teams once again turned the ball over when Moore touched the ball on a Hoover punt on the next possession, and the Bucs recovered at the Patriots’ 3.
The Patriots’ defense once again stood tall, forcing the Bucs to kick a 20-yard field goal to tie the game 6-6.
After the Patriots scored on the first play of the fourth quarter, Carter connected with Denson for a 10-yard touchdown pass to tie the game 13-13 before Justin McArthur took the ball in from 2 yards out to close out the scoring for the game.
The Patriots will host either Oxford, Clay-Chalkville or Hewitt-Trussville in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs Nov. 5.