EAST LIMESTONE —
With all the hype entering Friday’s game against No. 1 Muscle Shoals about defensive tackle and 5-star recruit Dee Liner, it was the Trojan offense that shined in a 42-7 win at East Limestone. The visitors scored on four plays of at least 40 yards and limited East Limestone to one play of more than 40 yards in the Class 5A Region 8 victory.
“We gave up too many big plays,” said East Limestone head coach Jeff Pugh. “We fought hard that first half to keep the ball away from them. Once they got those big plays, it changed what we had to do.”
East Limestone stuck to its game plan throughout the first half, resulting in a one-possession ballgame entering halftime. The Indians had success running the football and dominated time of possession, but it took only a few big plays for Muscle Shoals to bust the game wide open in the third quarter.
Tyler Jackson scored on runs of 42 and 2 yards on the Trojans’ first two possessions of the second half. Trailing 28-7, Muscle Shoals put the game out of reach when Demarian King returned a fumbled snap 35 yards for another score, making it 35-7 with just over a minute to play in the third.
East Limestone began the game doing something no other team has accomplished against the No. 1 Trojans all season: score first. The East crowd erupted when Mathew Franks threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Tristian Matthews early in the first quarter.
Following several successful run plays to start the game, East Limestone took advantage with the play-action touchdown pass to take an early 7-0 lead.
“We had worked on it in practice this week and knew we would have a chance to run it,” Pugh said. “We were one block here and there from breaking more big plays. But give Muscle Shoals credit. That is the best defense I’ve ever coached against.”
The Indians managed to go over 100 yards running the football, led by Torren Haley’s 14 carries for 49 yards. Matthew Franks completed 2-of-5 pass attempts for 78 yards and the touchdown. Matthews caught both passes along with a fumble recovery in the first quarter.
Muscle Shoals was led by running back Jamarcus Nance. The senior carried the ball 11 times for 147 yards and a touchdown. He also caught an 82-yard touchdown for the Trojans final score in the fourth quarter. Jackson finished with six carries for 54 yards and touchdown along with one catch for a 65-yard touchdown.
East Limestone (3-4, 2-3) will travel to Hartselle (6-1, 4-1) next week for a Class 5A Region 8 game. Muscle Shoals (7-0, 5-0) hosts West Point.