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In a battle of winless teams, something had to give and the Central Coosa Cougars got their first win in over three years, beating the Talladega County Central Tigers, 42-14, Friday to end their 2019 campaign on a high note after a rough couple seasons.

The game seemed like it was going to be a slugfest with both teams going tit for tat on the first couple series before turnovers leaned the game in Coosa’s favor.

“When we turned on the film we saw that they had the same weaknesses we do,” Central Coosa coach Brett Thomas said. “We focused on our line play all week and just getting Donta (Daniel) the ball.”

Coosa was up 20-6 when Talladega threw a short pass to the right side to Datravian Tuck who took the ball 30 yards after catch before a touchdown-saving tackle by Dontaye Gilder kept the Cougar defense on the field. The very next play Daniel forced a fumble that was recovered by Tra Butler for the Cougars.

The offense couldn’t get a drive going, however the next defensive series saw Butler intercept a pass in the end zone and nearly take it the distance for Coosa.

“We are going to miss Donta next year,” Thomas said, “but Butler is the guy at running back for the future. He’s just as fast; we just got to put some strength on him.”

After the Butler pick, Coosa threatened to score again, but Talladega showed fight intercepting Daniel in the end zone for a touchback. However, a fumble and penalties saw the Tigers get pushed back before ultimately fumbling the ball again, this time resulting in Coosa at the 1-yard line, following by a 1-yard touchdown run by Daniel.

Daniel did not disappoint in his final game in blue and white as a Cougar, scoring five touchdowns and forcing a fumble on what was the hardest hit of the night on Talladega quarterback Jakendrick Tuck.

Daniel played quarterback almost every snap, most going for carries, but threw a fade route to fellow senior Dawson Duncan for the first score of the night. Daniel followed his passing touchdown with four rushing touchdowns throughout the night, three going for 40 or more yards.

“The feeling is extraordinary. I feel like I won the jackpot,” Daniel said. “I love my teammates like brothers. We’ve been through thick and thin.”

Thomas is already looking ahead to next season.

“Going into next season we have to work on our line play more and now we’ve got to develop another quarterback,” Thomas said.

Coosa Central heads into the offseason with heads high and optimistic about next year’s team. “We are going to have a lot of young guys, we as coaches have to develop them,” Thomas said.

The Cougar sideline was full of energy from start to finish like it was opening night, while the Tigers looked like a team ready for the season to be over. A disappointed Talladega coach Christopher Mahand was not happy after the game.

“It’s hard to say something encouraging after a season like we’ve had,” Mahand said. “This offseason we are finding out who wants to be here and who doesn’t and go to battle with the ones that do.”

Ryne Gallacher is a regular columnist and correspondent for The Outlook.