HOWELL’S COVE – Josh Madden and the Talladega Tigers defense were dominant in their 21-6 win over Talladega County Central on Friday night at Alumni Stadium. The Tigers defense was stingy all night, as they forced four turnovers and allowed one first down for the entire game.
“We thought it was going to come down to the fourth quarter, and it did,” Talladega head coach Robert Herring said. “It is a rivalry game, and that is what you expect. Coach Mahand and them, I promise you, will win a lot of games this year. Offensively, we just hurt ourselves with bad snaps, which took us out of drives. The ball bounced off our hands for an interception in the end zone. We just have to go back to the drawing board to correct mental mistakes. Offensively, we know that we are good, but we weren’t good tonight. Defensively, we know they were going to get us there. When we get turnovers, we have to capitalize, and tonight we didn’t. That is why it was a close game.”
On the opening drive of the game, the Tigers’ offense put together a 16-play drive down to the Fighting Tigers’ 10-yard line. On second and goal, Ken Wells fumbled a low snap, which was picked up by TC Central’s Dee Johnson for an 83-yard touchdown to give TC Central a 6-0 lead with 5:59 left in the first quarter.
Josh Madden was impressive in his first varsity game. The senior safety recorded two interceptions in the first half. Madden’s first pick was inside the TC Central 5-yard line. His second interception came to start the second quarter.
“I just came out and played hard,” Madden said. “I did what coach told me to do. I have been working hard in practice, and it paid off in the game.”
Talladega got on the board on TC Central’s next possession on a safety to cut TC Central’s lead down to 6-2 with nine minutes left in the first half.
Talladega got on the board late in the second quarter thanks to the defense’s third takeaway of the first half. TC Central quarterback Corey White’s option pitch was fumbled, and recovered by a Talladega defender with 1:33 left in the half. Talladega didn’t waste any time capitalizing off TC Central’s miscue. Wells connected with Mario Echols for a 37-yard reception down to the Fighting Tigers’ 3-yard line. On the next play, Wells connected with Ja’Quan Scales in the front right corner of the end zone for a touchdown as time expired to give Talladega an 8-6 lead going into intermission.
TC Central’s offense just couldn’t execute on Friday night.
The Fighting Tigers offense had negative yards offense in the first half, and they did not have a first down until late in the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Fighting Tigers started the first possession pinned back in their own end zone. Talladega took advantage as they brought pressure, which forced Kylan Cross to fumble in the end zone, which was recovered by Talladega’s Robert Green for a touchdown. The point-after attempt was good, to give Talladega a 14-6 lead with 11:32 left in the game.
Talladega’s special-team unit came up with a blocked punt to set up Wells to call his own number for a 10-yard touchdown to give the Tigers a 21-6 lead.
TC Central’s defense had a strong showing against the Tigers, but their offensive struggles were the difference in the game.
“It was a hard-fought game and I was pleased with the way the defense played,” TC Central head coach Chris Mahand said. “The defense played hard-nosed. We got fatigued at the end. The depth is not where I would like, so they are going to have to suck it up and play football. It was a good learning experience for us. We can definitely learn from it. We are going to watch the film and correct the mistakes that we made. We just have to do a better job of executing offensively. I felt like that was going to be an issue for us in short preparation; we just didn’t do a good job of executing at all.”
Both teams will have a bye week next week to prepare for their region openers. Talladega takes on Tallassee on Sept. 5. TC Central will open region play the same date against Donoho.
Contact LaVonte Young at email@example.com.