Pickens County Completes Comeback!
The Pickens County Tornadoes overcame the Wadley Bulldogs, winning 18-14 after trailing 14-0 at one point.
While folks are recovering from their Thanksgiving feasts, the Pickens County community was treated to some home-state playoff football action, which made many people thankful that they were full from their meal and this game.
The Bulldogs were having early success rushing the ball against the Tornadoes as fans were still filing into their seats and trying to warm themselves inside frigid Reform, Alabama. Wadley has been one of the top rushing teams in the area this season. Jaquez Wilkes and Cortavion Lynch, the Bulldogs' talented sophomore backfield, led their team. Both scored early in the game, and Wadley was able to kill a lot of time on the clock by running the ball well.
Pickens Co. fought back despite being down by double digits throughout the game. Tornado fans were pumped up for their team even though they were bundled in blankets and drinking $5 hot chocolate.
Santonio Jones, the Tornadoes' star wide receiver, would put the team on the board. Jones received a bubble screen from quarterback Kemaurion Plott and broke many tackles to make an incredible play from the left side of the field to the right.
Jones finished the first half by intercepting a pass from Wadley quarterback Brent Langley, keeping the Bulldogs out of the end zone.
Wadley received the ball in the second half and dominated the third quarter. Wadley simply kept racing with Wilkes and Lynch. Wilkes, who is 6-foot-5 and weighs 219 pounds, used his entire height and weight to gain positive yardage, as did Lynch, who stands 5-foot-7 and weighs a strong 166 pounds.
The Pickens Co. defense mustered up enough spirit and vigor to keep Wadley out of the end zone, which caused the drive to stall.
Plott connected with Jones again with six minutes left in the third quarter for a 51-yard reception, which led to a potential game-tying touchdown when they connected for a three-yard touchdown. However, the two-point conversion attempt failed, and the Tornadoes fell behind by two points.
The entire dynamic of the game was altered by those two plays and the goal-line stop. As the temperature dropped, the Pickens Co. sideline and bleachers came alive with enthusiasm.
"When you run that type of offense, you limit yourself on the number of plays that you run," head coach Michael Williams said. "We knew more of what they were running when they got inside the end zone. Just to fight with number 7 and number 10 and this senior class, they didn't want to lose their last game on this field. There is no better way to send them out of here."
With 11 minutes left in the game, Wadley received the ball, and the Bulldogs went back to their bread and butter, running the ball. Leading the assault, Wilkes and Lynch believed Pickens Co. could not stop them as they marched down the field at will, converting every third down they encountered.
Four minutes remained on the clock as the Bulldogs crossed the 20-yard line and the Tornadoes made another stop.
Plott was a part of one of the most controversial game-winning touchdowns in the semifinals last season against Coosa Christian. He caught a hail mary pass that broke the endzone plain and propelled Pickens County to the state championship.
Plott was the quarterback this time, and he added another memorable moment to his high school career. He converted three fourth-down plays, including a 30-yard connection to Michael Billups and a 12-yard run on 4th and 11. Plott ultimately throws a 35-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Korbit Sommerville with less than 30 seconds remaining in the game and no timeouts.
"We really tried to run a route down the field on a two-high safety," Williams said. "They closed on it and who else to make a better play than Korbit Sommerville. He's been our guy for the last four years. There is no better way to send him out on his last game on this field."
The crowd went crazy; some fans came out of the stands and onto the sidelines.
"It's a blue-collar town," Williams said. "You know it's Pickens Co.; it doesn't take much. It's hard growing up, and your resilience comes from your parents and from the town. I love being from here and love creating magic on this field."
In the final seconds, the Bulldogs would go for a prayer shot to the endzone, but it was short and intercepted, securing the thrill of victory for Pickens Co. and the agony of defeat for Wadley.
Pickens Co. vs Wadley
Gallery Credit: Arlando Sanders Photography