Despite a gritty start on defense for the Daleville Warhawks, the Slocomb Red Tops eventually ran away with the Class 3A, Region 2 matchup between the two schools on Thursday, Oct. 8 by a score of 41-6.
The game was moved to Thursday because of the risk of severe weather predicted for Oct. 9 but the two sides played in a downpour for much of the first half anyway.
Slocomb is one of the most proficient offenses in Class 3A but it was the Daleville defense that took center stage to begin the game.
On the first play from scrimmage, Daleville linebacker Cam Giles dislodged the ball from Slocomb receiver Chris Beshears and fellow linebacker Myles Parris covered the ball near midfield.
The Warhawks couldn’t muster up any offense, however, and were forced to punt the ball right back to the Red Tops.
The Warhawk defense forced a Slocomb three-and-out on the next drive but Daleville’s offense also went three-and-out as the two side’s tried to play the field position battle.
The Red Tops finally started to get things going late in the first quarter and drove inside the Daleville 10-yard line, but Warhawk defensive lineman Jeremiah Moore blew up a Slocomb read option attempt forcing a fumble, and Sincere McKenzie recovered.
“Early I felt like (the game) was going good for us. They were turning the ball over and not playing very sound football,” Daleville coach Desmond Lett said. “They turned the ball over twice early but we just weren’t able to capitalize on the mistakes they made.
“Slocomb is a very well-coached team and they have two really good backs but I felt like the first t10 minutes of the game was sort of a sloppy game. We just were never able to capitalize on their errors.”
Daleville turned the ball over right back to Slocomb on a fumble, though, and the Red Tops made them pay as Jaylen Nobles scored on a 2-yard touchdown run a few plays later. A bad snap on the PAT attempt kept the score 6-0 in favor of the Red Tops.
The Warhawks fumbled the ensuing kickoff and that’s when things began to unravel for Daleville. Slocomb scored on the next play as Quarterback Caulin Thomas rumbled for a 41-yard touchdown run.
The Red Tops attempted an onside kick but the Warhawks had it covered up only for the ball to squirt out of the Daleville runner’s hands as he was hit, giving Slocomb the ball back in Daleville territory once again. A few plays later, Rashawn Miller stretched the Slocomb lead to 20-0.
As the second quarter began, Daleville went three-and-out again and Nobles would cap off a 10-play drive with a 9-yard touchdown run to stretch the Slocomb lead out to 27-0.
Yet another Daleville three-and-out was followed up by a 73-yard touchdown run from Nobles to give Slocomb a 34-0 lead.
After another Warhawk three-and-out, McKenzie forced a fumble on the ensuing punt and covered it up near midfield. Ultimately, Daleville couldn’t make anything happen with the ball and Slocomb would take a 34-0 lead into halftime.
Slocomb scored again in the third quarter and finally in the fourth quarter – as the two sides played with a running clock – the Warhawks got on the scoreboard on a 16-yard touchdown run from Speedy Wiley to give Slocomb the 41-6 win.
The Daleville offense didn’t pick up its first first down until the fourth quarter and gained just 69 total yards, while Slocomb rolled up 309 yards of offense.
Wiley led the Daleville offense with 48 yards and a touchdown on 12 rushing attempts, while McKenzie rushed for 34 yards on 11 carries. McKenzie also totaled seven tackles, forced a fumble and recovered two fumbles on defense, while Myles Parris recorded eight tackles, three tackles-for-loss, two sacks and a fumble recovery.
Giles earned seven tackles and a forced fumble on defense, while Jeremiah Moore was a terror on the defensive line at times, recording four tackles, four tackles-for-loss and a forced fumble.
Nobles led Slocomb with 139 yards and three touchdowns on 10 carries.
Lett said that he felt like the defense’s performance early in the game is something they can build on going forward.
“I do think it’s something we can and will build on,” Lett said. “Jeremiah Moore, especially, is getting into game form now. I know that’s bad to say eight games in but I feel like he wasn’t in the best shape and now he’s gotten into shape and is realizing he can play for four full quarters.
“He’s leaned up a little bit and he’s more fresh in the fourth quarter and he can be a big player for us.”