Without sophomore tailback Daniel Caldwell, Comer head coach Anthony Jack said, “We rode Caleb Duffee like a horse.” Duffee opened the game with five straight rushes setting up Comer’s first score in the first quarter and ended the game with 19 carries for almost 100 yards.
Wildcat head coach Eric Johnson said, “It was difficult to prepare for this game because their line is so strong.” Johnson said a key to his team’s loss was their mental mistakes.
The Wildcats were plagued throughout the game with penalties and fumbles. An 80-yard reverse in the first quarter was called back for holding and a scoring opportunity was lost in the fourth quarter with a Tiger interception.
“We can’t afford to make these kinds of mistakes against a disciplined team like them,” Johnson said.
Another key to the Tiger victory was time management. “Tyler Homes (quarterback) did a great job managing the clock,” Jacks said. “That is our game plan – possess the football.”
“Some coaches say time doesn’t matter, but as long as we got it they can’t score,” Jacks said.
Tarrant failed to move the ball after taking the opening kickoff. Comer took over at their own 43 taking over five minutes off the clock with a 9-play drive resulting in a touchdown. Following the lead of Duffee the Tigers took the ball to the Wildcat 21. Junior quarterback Tyler Holmes then ran it in for a 21-yard touchdown and with the PAT the score stood at 7-0.
Comer’s lead appeared short-lived when from the first play from scrimmage the Tarrant tailback ran 80 yards for an apparent TD. The run was brought back for holding and the Wildcats failed to make a first down and punted.
Comer managed to drive the ball to the Wildcat 33 before the quarter ended, the score remained 7-0 at the end of the quarter.
The second quarter opened with the Tigers facing a fourth down.
“We saw their players playing up,” Jacks said, “and felt they weren’t honoring our tight ends and Tyler hit Trey in the numbers.”
Sophomore Trey Jackson took the pass in for a 33-yard touchdown and Comer was up 13-0 after missing the extra point.
Tarrant looked to get into the game with a 49-yard run by junior Johnathan Rattliffe. Rattliffe added 26 yards with a pass from sophomore quarterback Deuntra Head. Rattliffe took the ball in from the 2 for the touchdown capping off a 51 yard drive and with the extra point the Tiger lead was cut to six.
Clock management again made a difference as Comer took almost five minutes off the clock. They didn’t score but left only a minute and 33 seconds before they punted to the Wildcats. A couple of penalties and an incomplete pass forced the Wildcats to punt and the Tigers ran out the clock to end the half with a 13-6 lead.
The third quarter saw little offense by either team. Comer took the second half kickoff and fumbled at their own 11 on next play. The Wildcats quarterback was dropped at the 17, however, and fumbled the ball back to the Tigers.
The Tigers appeared to be driving again on the legs of Duffee but the drive stalled resulting in a Comer punt. Tarrant failed to move the ball after key runs were called back because of penalties. With third down on their own 26 Rattliffe fumbled and the Tigers recovered the ball at the Wildcat 13.
Once again the offensive line took over and Duffee’s hard running punched the ball to the 1-yard line. “Our offensive line did well,” Jacks said. Homes then took the ball in for the score and with the PAT the Tigers were up 20-7.
After receiving the kickoff and with 7:21 left in the fourth, Tarrant could not move the ball. Turning the ball over to Comer on downs, the Tigers methodically took the clock to 47 seconds before punting to the Wildcats.
Although the Wildcats were given an extra play because of a defensive penalty, they simply took a knee and took the loss.
Tarrant plays Montevallo next week.
Comer faces Coosa Central next week. Jacks said, “We need to clean up our counter and sweep game.”
Jacks was quick to say, however, “I’m pleased with these kids. This is one of the best teams I’ve coached. They fight tooth and toenail. They didn’t play perfect but they played a complete game.”
Contact Mark Ledbetter at email@example.com