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Rebels’ title bid falls short

Lowndes Academy’s season-long run as the underdog came to an abrupt conclusion Friday.

Edgewood earned its first state title with a 19-12 win in the AISA Class AA championship game at Troy University’s Movie Gallery Stadium.

“I knew it was going to be a dogfight,” said Edgewood coach Bobby Carr. “Our guys just had to overcome a little adversity. That’s what champions do, and these guys played together with one heartbeat all year.”

After beating No. 1 Monroe last week, Lowndes (10-4) couldn’t pull a rabbit out of the hat again.

“We didn’t have it today,” said Lowndes coach Art Sullivan. “We’ll get over this one. In a couple of days we’ll be over it.”

The Rebels struck first blood on their opening possession. Quarterback Anderson Casey converted a fourth and 1 with a 25-yard touchdown gallop. But Dilian Nessmith blocked Richard Pate’s extra point attempt.

Lowndes tried to surprise the Wildcats (13-0) with an onside kick. Edgewood’s Jordan Martin sniffed it out and snagged the ball at the Wildcat 48. Seven plays later, the Eagles scored on a hook and lateral on fourth and 8. Chris Tice hit Matt Moore, who flipped to running back Cody Lee for the 35-yard touchdown.

“It’s just something we’ve been working on all year and haven’t run it all year,” said Carr. “We just thought the time was right.”

Brandon Pate’s 2-yard run got the Rebels to the Wildcat 29 with 30 seconds left in the first half and no time outs. Casey took two sacks in the drive, an example of how mightily the Rebels struggled all game. Casey finished the game 4-for-10 passing for 19 yards and one interception.

A golden opportunity dropped into the Rebels’ lap in the third quarter when Dusty Owen intercepted a Tice pass at midfield and returned the ball to the Wildcat 27. Jordan Powell sacked Casey on fourth down to end the threat.

The Rebels took advantage of a fumble by Lee with a 1-yard Bozeman touchdown run that put them ahead 12-7.

Lowndes punted out of its own end zone in the fourth quarter, and the Wildcats took over at the Rebel 36 with 11:18 left.

Edgewood needed three plays to retake the lead on a 21-yard Tanner Drennan touchdown run. Tice’s failed attempt on the 2-point conversion kept the score at 13-12.

Edgewood was ready to put the game away on its next possession, driving to the Lowndes 8. But Kristian Kilpatrick forced another Lee fumble, and Buddy Bush fell on it at the Lowndes 8.

With 3:50 left in the game, Lowndes had one more chance. Again, the passing game came up empty. Casey overthrew a wide-open Owen on fourth down, and Edgewood took over on the Lowndes 7.

Another Drennan touchdown run closed out the scoring.

Lee intercepted Casey at the Lowndes 11 on the following drive to snuff out the Rebels’ last chance.

Tice led the Wildcats on 7-of-12 passing for 113 yards. Lee chipped in 75 yards on the ground, and Drennan added 52.

Pate and Bozeman led the Rebels’ offense with a combined 35 carries for 56 yards apiece.

“Ten ballgames is not bad to win in a year, especially when everyone’s only expecting half that,” said Sullivan. “We’ll want to get back.”