Saints get fourth win of the year

Published 10:52 am Monday, September 27, 2010

SELMA — For Selma High head football coach Leroy Miles Jr., the playcalling the final few minutes of Friday night’s game against Sidney Lanier was pretty easy.

It was as simple as saying, “give it Coco.” And that’s exactly what they did eight consecutive times as the Saints worked to run out the clock on their fourth win of the year.

With the 23-19 win over Sidney Lanier, the Saints improve to 4-1 on the year and set up an important region game next Friday against Chilton County.

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“I am extremely proud of this team and the way they fought,” Miles said after the game. “We knew it wouldn’t be easy because we knew the quality opponents [Sidney Lanier] had played all year. They are a good football team.”

But in the end, it was the gutsy play of the Saints and their tailback Keenan “Coco” Woods.

“I knew they were going to give me the ball down the stretch to run out the clock. So the pressure was on me,” Woods said. “I owe a lot of what I was able to do to the offensive line for doing their job and leading the way.”

Holding a 23-19 lead late in the fourth quarter, the Saints were able to force Lanier to punt with 4:57 left in the game. Taking over at the Poets’ 47-yard line the Saints began handing the ball off to Woods.

Although the Saints were not able to fully run out the clock, they were able to eat up more than three minutes, giving Lanier just under two minutes to drive the field with no timeouts.

Four plays later, the Saints defense had held and forced a turnover on downs, giving the Saints back the ball and the win.

“Our defense played really well and our defensive coaches did a great job putting together a plan to stop [the Poets] late in the game,” Miles said. “This was a complete win.”

For the Saints, it wasn’t just the tough running of Woods that led to the win. It also fell on the arm — and left ankle — of quarterback Darion Alexander.

Trailing 19-16 in the fourth quarter, Alexander dropped back to pass and connected with Demarcus Thompkins for an apparent 69-yard touchdown strike with about 11 minutes to go in the game. The play was called back due to holding and pinned the Saints further back near their own end zone.

On the next play, Alexander again dropped back to pass but this time the pass fell incomplete. But, it also saw Alexander fall to the ground due to a late hit on the part of a Lanier defender.

After remaining flat on the field for a few moments, Alexander would be helped off with an apparent left ankle injury, putting the offensive attack in the hands of backup quarterback Jessie Harris.

That drive, which would ultimately lead to the game-winning score, was not only aided by some strong plays on the part of Selma’s offense, but some silly mistakes on the part of Lanier’s defense.

In the drive, the Lanier defense was flagged for five penalties for a total of 45 yards.

On third down from the Lanier, Alexander, who had just returned to the game, found his backup, and now wide receiver, Harris in the back of the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown with 7:17 to go. The extra point by J’Vontae Jurlow was good, ending the scoring at 23-19.

In the game, Alexander finished with three touchdown passes, one to Harris, another to Andrew Blake and a third to Thompkins. Overall, Alexander was 12-of-21 for 192 yards and three touchdowns. He also had one interception that was returned by the Poets for a touchdown.

Woods finished the game with 58 yards rushing on 22 rushes, but had 33 yards on the Saints’ clock-eating drive in the fourth quarter.

Thompkins finished the game as the Saints’ leading receiver with 119 yards and one touchdown on six reception.