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Devils hang tough in loss to Vinemont

By Staff
Dan Vinson, Enquirer Correspondent
The class 3A Vinemont Eagles came to Falkville on Friday night as the decided favorites. Even though the Eagles' starting running back Ryan Wolijevach was injured and not able to play, Vinemont was visibly bigger and seemingly stronger than the Blue Devils. While Vinemont won the game 23-13, it was far from an easy victory.
After the first Falkville drive abruptly stopped because of a Vinemont recovered fumble, the Eagles looked to capitalize on their size advantage. The first two offensive plays for Vinemont were simple handoffs to their big fullback, who gained 14 yards on the pair of carries. Vinemont controlled the line of scrimmage on the drive as they methodically pounded the ball inside with short gains. The 12-play series ended with a Eagle touchdown from the 6-yard line. The extra point attempt failed, leaving the score 6-0.
The next Falkville possession saw the Blue Devils attempt to establish a running attack but the Eagles again used their superior size to force Falkville to punt.
The Blue Devil defensive players were called upon to slow down the Eagles and they responded with a valiant effort. Vinemont's great field position was quickly negated as the Devils' Cody Simpson dropped the quarterback for a loss. With Jeremy Stiles stopping the run on second down and long, the Eagles attempted to catch Falkville off guard with a reverse. When the trick play failed, the Eagles were forced to punt.
After Falkville went three-and-out on the next series, the Eagles had the ball again in great field position. From the 50-yard line Vinemont ran the ball over and around the Devils until they finally scored with an 8-yard quarterback keeper. Of the 10 plays in the drive, nine were rushes.
The second half saw Vinemont pick up where it left off, forcing Falkville to go three-and-out and then driving the ball down the field to set up a 31-yard field goal.
With the score 17-0 and struggling to move the ball offensively, Falkville coach Neil Estes made a change at the quarterback position. Freshman Jonathan McNatt was given the chance to move the Blue Devil offense and he made the most of his opportunity. McNatt came out throwing, making three completions to three different receivers for 41 yards. He then ran the ball in from the 1-yard line to give the Blue Devils their first score of the night.
Falkville's next offensive drive saw the Devils' air attack pick apart the Eagles pass defense. McNatt made seven pass attempts before a handoff was made to the workhorse running back Blake Jump. Then on third down with eight yards to go for the first, McNatt found a streaking Cody Simpson and got him the ball with a 28-yard touchdown pass.
Vinemont took the ball with a 23-13 lead but was stopped quickly when senior defensive tackle Nick Hill delivered a crushing hit to the opposing runner.
Forced to punt, the Eagles had to rely on their defense to stop the now potent Falkville offense. Vinemont rose to the challenge and, after completions were made to Jump and Shadden, the Eagles intercepted a Falkville pass. The Eagles were victorious by a score of 23-13 after seeing a furious passing attack in the second half.
McNatt ended the game with 163 yards passing in less than one half of play.