The Volunteers scored 20 points off four Childersburg turnovers.
“We have gotten really good at turning the ball over, and that is not a good thing,” Childersburg head coach Adam Fossett said. “It is stuff that we address in practice; it is not something that we are not addressing. We will continue to work on it; we will continue to get better. The crazy thing is we are sitting at 4-2, and we have all these turnovers. If we eliminate those turnovers, there is no telling where we could be and what our record could be. We will work on it, and we will try to solve that problem and keep getting better. That’s our goal. This is over with and we have to get ready for Elmore County. We have to go down there; we have to get ready for that.”
Central of Clay County scored 14 points off Childersburg turnovers in the first half.
On the Tigers’ second possession of the game, Zach Lightsey was picked off by Christopher Briskey, who returned it 20 yards for a touchdown.
Lightsey was picked off again in the second quarter. His pass was deflected at the line of scrimmage and fell into the hands of Robert Reynolds who returned it to the Tigers’ 12-yard line. DeAndre Wills caught a four-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Woods. The PAT was good to put Central of Clay County up 14-0 with 7:54 left in the half.
Central of Clay County struggled at times offensively against the Childersburg defense, but they put together a drive at the end of the first half for a field goal. Isaac Andrews nailed a 41-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to give the Vols a 17-0 lead.
In the second half, Central turned to their workhorse Jaylen Lyles. The junior rushed for 261 yards on 38 carries for the game.
Lyles carried the Vols down the field for a touchdown in the third quarter. The running back rushed for 36 of their 60 yards on the scoring drive. His 25-yard touchdown run with 2:40 left in the third quarter increased Central of Clay County’s lead to 24-0.
Kendarius Calhoun returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown to cut the Vols lead to 24-6.
The Tigers recovered the onside kick at the Central 28 yard line. The key play of the drive was when Lightsey found Calhoun for a 16-yard gain down to the Central 1-yard line on fourth down. Lightsey scored on the next play on a keeper to cut the lead to 24-12.
Childersburg’s defense held the Vols to a three and out. The Tigers took over at midfield. Lightsey and Frank Wilkerson had passing plays of 12, 4 and 13 yards to get it down to the Central 21-yard line. Lightsey found Tylan Coleman for a 21-yard strike for a touchdown to cut the lead down to 24-18 with 10:44 left in the game. The two-point conversion failed.
“We got sparked by a kickoff return for a touchdown,” Fossett said. “We took a chance on a surprise onside kick and we were able to get it. They weren’t ready for it. That was huge for us, and we were right there within six points. One thing that we didn’t do well was pick up two-point conversions. We were able to score, but we were unable to convert two-point conversions. That hurt us a little bit. We were close; we were right there. This is a team that is ranked in the state and they haven’t given up a region point all year. Hats off to those guys. We played well in spots. If we can put us playing well all together for four quarters, I think we can be unbeatable, but we have to be able to put it together and not commit turnovers and mistakes.”
Central of Clay County put together a 12-play drive that took the 7 minutes off the clock for a field goal. Lyles rushed for 67 yards on seven carries on the drive which included a 25-yard run. His 14-yard run set up first and goal from the 5-yard line.
The Tigers’ defense stiffened as they were able to hold the Vols from scoring a touchdown. Andrews connected a 30-yard field goal to make it a two score game, 27-18.
“Defensively, we are playing well,” Fossett said. “We are still doing things right and playing good assignment football. Offensively, we put them in bad spots with turnovers. We gave up some serious field position; it was awful the field position we gave up. We put them in bad spots, but they did hold strong, especially in the second half. We were playing a lot of kids; we had some injuries tonight. I am proud of our kids. They play hard and we have come a long way. This program has come a long way and is still on the up and up.”
On the first play of the Tigers’ ensuing drive, Lightsey was picked off for the fourth time of the game, this time by Deidric Rutledge. Lyles put the game away a few plays later with a 33-yard touchdown to make it 33-18.
“It was a region win,” Central of Clay County head coach Chris Herron said. “We knew coming over here that Coach Fossett is doing a great job over here for a couple of years and got his guys believing in what he is doing. They bought into their system and it is evident from their film last week against Sylacauga. They are not going to give up; they are going to keep playing. We got on them and we have seen them do it, they are not going to quit. They came back and made some plays and kind of had our backs to the wall at times. But then our guys responded with a couple of drives that I thought were good drives and it told a lot about our self. That was two good football teams. It was a very physical game on both sides and we are very fortunate to be able to leave here tonight with a win.”