Tallassee vs Reeltown

Reeltown running back Dakarian Hughley (6) carries the ball during an AHSAA football game between the Tallassee Tigers and the Reeltown Rebels at Reeltown High School in Alexander City, Ala on Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021. 

Trailing 21-20 after a touchdown plunge with less than 90 seconds remaining, Reeltown head coach Matt Johnson had a decision to make, a classic football conundrum.

Go for one and overtime or two decide the game on one play from the 3-yard-line.

Johnson went for the ballgame.

“On the road, and the rules of overtime, their offense is more likely to go a couple yards, grinding down the field. It was just kind of an emotional thing in the moment. We had the momentum.”

There wasn’t any doubt about who was getting the ball.

Dakarian “Juicy” Hughley had been piecing together one of the best rushing performances in recent memory for Reeltown. 31 carries. 281 yards. Three touchdowns.

Reeltown lined up in its goal line formation, a wishbone, and handed it directly to their workhorse.

He breached Childersburg’s defensive front and plowed into the endzone to give Reeltown a 22-21 lead.

An interception by defensive back Xavier Thomas sealed the win for the Rebels.

“We just had to fight back,” Johnson said. “Just had to fight.”

Nothing could stop Hughley Friday night.

With his offensive line digging out holes in front of him, he rattled off chunk run after chunk run to keep the Tigers on the back foot.

“He carried the load for us,” Johnson said. “I’m not sure we’ve had a back in a long time, not since I’ve been here that’s carried the ball 31 times.”

Problem was, Reeltown couldn’t finish drives.

Johnson said despite multiple pushes into the opposing redzone, the Rebels consistently failed to cap drives with points and as such trailed 21-7 in the second half.

“In the first half, we’d drive all the way down the field, then it was like there was a wall in front of the red zone,” Johnson said. “We’d have a penalty or make a mistake or two. We just couldn’t stick it in the first half.”

Enter the defense.

Making stop after stop to keep their team afloat, Reeltown’s drive stallers kept Childersburg at bay both through the air and on the ground, to the tune of just 58 total yards in the first half.

Johnson pointed to Buck Thompson, JoJo Green, Jacob Hornsby and Marcus Haynes as top reasons why.

“I was really proud of how we came together defensively, getting those two stops and giving us an opportunity to get the ball back, go ahead and score,” Johnson said.

Reeltown continues its campaign at Montgomery Catholic Sept. 10.

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