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Madison Academy outlasts Lauderdale

Damiene Pam, Pierre Brown and Cole Swearengen celebrate with their teammates on the field following Madison Academy’s win. (Record photo by Anna Durrett)

It was not a blowout like the playoff wins leading up to this game, but the end result looked good to Madison Academy head coach Eric Cohu.

Despite getting out-gained and dominated in time of possession, Madison Academy held off gritty Lauderdale County on Friday night at Bill Washington Stadium in the Class 3A semifinal game for a 21-13 victory.

Madison Academy will head to Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium on Thursday to play for the first state championship in football in the school’s history. It would also be the first for any school in Madison County.

The Mustangs run the ball Friday night. (Contributed by Give Take Your Pic Photography)

The Mustangs poured on the offense early, got a lead, played just enough defense, and recovered an onside kick with 53 seconds left to secure their ninth straight win and run their record to 12-2. They will play Fayette County for the 3A state championship.

“I felt like turnovers would dictate the ball game and we had some big turnovers to allow us to win the game,” Cohu said. “Kerryon made the big plays, Nick Haas and Colby Crossfield had big catches to set up scores. We had a lot of contributors do the little things tonight.”

Academy struck on the game’s opening possession. After a fourth down conversion, Kerryon Johnson broke free on a 45-yard touchdown run. Chandler Trach kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead.

Academy was back on the board early in the second quarter. Quarterback Blake Coward hit Crossfield on a 27-yard pass on 4th and 12 to get inside the five yard line.

Johnson went one yard for the touchdown. Johnson also had an interception to end the first half.

Academy dominated the halftime stats with 189 total yards to 76 for Lauderdale County.

Lauderdale County struck back using screen passes and the option. A long drive in the third quarter netted a touchdown on a 1-yard run by quarterback Samuel Grisham.

With momentum shifting, Madison Academy linebacker Malik Miller intercepted a pass deflected by Pierre Brown and returned it to the Lauderdale County 21 yard line. Kerryon Johnson then scored on an 11 yard touchdown run to make it 21-6.

Miller played both tailback and linebacker. “Coach Cohu said defense wins championships and we rose up. We knew they would try to keep the ball a long time but it worked to our advantage. We came up with enough stops to win the game,” Miller said.

Lauderdale County scored a late touchdown with only 53 seconds left, but Academy ran out the clock after Justin Wimberly recovered the onside kick.

The Mustangs were out gained 221 to 258 in total yards and Lauderdale dominated the clock in the second half but Johnson’s three touchdowns were enough. He finished with 103 yards on 15 carries.

“It feels amazing to get a second chance to redeem ourselves,” Johnson said. “A lot of teams don’t get it so we have to take advantage of it this time. Last year nobody expected us to make it that far. This year we knew we were good but we weren’t overconfident. We will have to play our best game of the year to win. If we are not on our game we can be beat but Coach Cohu will have us prepared.”

Cohu said his team will go into the state championship game with more confidence this year.

“Several of our guys were on the field last year but when you get to the state championship whoever wins that game is going to be a good football team. It will come down to the little things like tonight to win next week. We certainly don’t want a disappointing runner up again.”

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