Red Devils fall at home
Mistakes bit the Maplesville Red Devils again — a problem that coach Brent Hubbert has shaken his head over all season.
“We shot ourselves in the foot,” said Hubbert. “We had opportunities to put points on the board and couldn’t capitalize — same story from the beginning of the year, same story week 11.”
The Red Devils (6-4) missed several opportunities en route to falling to Loachapoka (8-2) 18-9 in the first round of the AHSAA Class 1A playoffs on Friday.
The Red Devils controlled the game early, grabbing a quick 7-0 lead on a 47-yard touchdown connection from Matthew Hamner to Cedric Bailey.
The Maplesville defense proved stifling as well, holding the Indians to two first downs on their first three possessions and putting them in a third-and-21 situation late in the quarter.
Loachapoka quarterback Patrick Moore answered. Moore hit Ladextric Jones for an 85-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to 7-6.
“We let them in the game,” said Hubbert. “We thought they were asleep, dead and we had them where we wanted them. They got some momentum and they woke up and started taking it to us.”
Maplesville blocked the extra point, but it would not hurt Loachapoka.
Early in the second quarter, Maplesville began the first of its three drives that would end with a turnover on downs inside the Indian 10-yard line.
The Red Devils drove 61 yards on four plays to the Loachapoka 3, and were set for the go-ahead score. But running back Edwin Pettiway suffered a 2-yard loss on third down and Hamner took a 10-yard sack on fourth to end the threat.
“They’re a lot bigger and stronger than us,” said Hubbert. “They played more physical when we got down to the red zone. Our coaching didn’t help much either.”
The Indians made Maplesville pay for their missed opportunity. Moore threw for 90 yards on Loachapoka’s ensuing drive, putting the Indians on top 12-6 with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Jones.
The Indians found the end zone one more time as the half expired to remove what little air was left in the Maplesville sails. Three plays after a 50-yard completion between Moore and Jones, Moore hooked up with Jones for a 23-yard touchdown — the duo’s third touchdown connection of the half — to put the Indians on top 18-6.
The Maplesville defense would keep the Indians off the scoreboard in the second half, but the offense never discovered a way to finish drives.
Late in the third quarter, they received another golden opportunity. Jones — who doubles as the Indians’ punter — couldn’t field a snap over his head. He picked the ball up and scrambled with it before Justin Howell forced a fumble and Kuwan Barnes recovered for the Red Devils at the Maplesville 47.
Hamner drove Maplesville 52 yards to the Loachapoka 1-yard line in 11 plays. But Hunter Mccay was turned away on fourth down, and the Indians took over.
“Both teams laid it on the line,” said Loachapoka coach — and Selma native — Jerome Tate. “Both teams played extremely hard. I thought our defense stepped up when they really needed to step up.”
But Maplesville caught a break on the next play as the Indians were called for holding while Moore threw from the end zone. resulting in a safety and an 18-9 score and new life on offense.
The Red Devils drove to the Lochapoka 20, but a Hamner pass intended for James Madsen fell into the waiting arms of Marvin Hunter to end another threat.
With time running out, Maplesville got one more shot, driving 54 yards on nine plays to the Loachapoka 1-yard line. But like every drive since the Hamner hit Bailey for the Red Devils’ lone offensive score, the drive ended unhappily as Mccay was turned away on fourth down again.
“We hope the young kids learn from their mistakes and come back next year,” said Hubbert. “We might have 15 kids in here crying, but I want 60 celebrating next year.
The Indians kneeled out the clock to seal the win.