Austin sets eyes on redemption

Black Bears hold off late rally to punch Semifinals ticket for second straight year

Caleb Suggs

Hartselle Enquirer

Austin needed 6 yards. Antonio Robinson got seven. Austin then needed three and Robinson delivered 16. In what was almost a nightmare situation for Austin, the Black Bear’s star running back delivered when his team needed him the most. “It’s about finding a way to win.” Austin head coach Jeremy Perkins said. “We’ve done about every way we can think to do it this year. I’m proud of our kids.”

In what looked destined to be a blow out, turned into a nail biter late. Muscle Shoals took the opening kickoff and marched down the field as Carlos Davis ran the ball six times for 46 yards. However, the Trojans missed a field goal try and came away with no points. After Austin stopped a fake punt try on the Trojan’s second drive, the Black Bears took over. After quarterback Paxton Montgomery connected with Jaquan Pledger on a tipped pass, Montgomery found Malieq Senior from a 27-yard touchdown as Austin took a 7-0 lead.

Montgomery kept his hot streak going on the next drive as he connected with Tony Norman for a 34-yard score just a play after a penalty had negated a touchdown to the same player. Austin led 14-0.

The Black Bears had another chance to score before the half as Montgomery moved the Bears into Trojan territory with three throws to Senior with 12 seconds left. However, his desperation heave on the last play to Jalik Jaggwe fell incomplete.

As soon as the second half started, the Bears began to move the ball down the field. Two big catches from Senior moved them into Trojan territory. Montgomery then connected with Robinson to the 11-yard line but a fumble gave Muscle Shoals the ball at their own one.

The Black Bears managed a safety but a facemask gave Shoals a first down. However, Austin came up big with a blocked punt to take back over at their own 29. Jaggwe wasted no time as he carried it the whole 29 for the score to make it 20-0.

Muscle Shoals received life on their next drive as they started at the Austin 27 thanks to a big kickoff return by Carlos Davis. A few plays later and Talis Horrison took it in to cut the lead to 20-7. However, Austin’s Tyrese Swoopes returned the favor by returning the ensuing kickoff to the Shoals 22. Four plays later and Robinson carried it in for the five-yard score to make it 27-7.

Then things got crazy. Muscle Shoals marched the ball down the field which ended with quarterback Andrew Willingham taking it in for a 9-yard score to cut the lead to 27-14.

After a three and out by Austin, the Trojans picked up another score on a freak tipped pass in the end zone, and suddenly what looked like an easy win had turned into a nightmare scenario.

However, the Trojans would never get the ball back as Robinson carried it six straight times for 34 yards to put the game away. Austin came away with the win 27-21 and punched their ticket to the Class 6A semifinals for the second straight year. The Black Bears will meet the Ramsay Rams. Quarterback Paxton Montgomery finished with 195 yards passing and two touchdowns while Antonio Robinson finished with 76 yards rushing and a score. Malieq Senior had 80 yards receiving and a score.

After the game, senior wide receiver Jalik Jaggwe, who walked off the same field last year with a much different feeling, was overcome with emotion. “I’m just proud of my team, we felt like we could get this win. Now were going to try to get to Auburn.” Jaggwe said. “We’ve been through a lot of challenges this season, we’ve played through seven overtimes. We know how to battle at the end.” Last year the Black Bear’s season ended with a 45-35 loss to Clay Chalkville in the semis. This year the Bears are focused on getting past that round and on to state.

 

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