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           The 1985 Deshler Tigers know all about the agony of defeat. It was not bad enough they lost in overtime to Sheffield 14-13 to end the regular season. The teams met again two weeks later and the Tigers lost in dramatic fashion 13-12, in the second round of the playoffs, to take away any hopes of a state championship.

           The playoff game started well for the Tigers as they scored on their second possession of the game on Russ Cleveland's 30-yard pass to Andy Elledge. Chuck Peters recovered a Sheffield fumble to set up the 45-yard drive. The extra point try was wide but the Tigers led 6-0 with 5:35 left in the first quarter.

          The lead did not hold up long for the Tigers. The Sheffield Bulldogs came back early in the second period on a 47-yard drive to take the lead when Ronald Yarbrough raced nine yards for a touchdown. Fred Grabryon booted the point after and Sheffield led 7-6 with 8:59 remaining in the half.

          With just over one minute left in the first half, Sheffield got on the scoreboard again on a three-play, 81-yard drive. Ronald Yarbrough raced 77 yards on a third down play and after the extra point failed the Bulldogs led 13-6 at the half.

           After a scoreless third, Deshler drove 66 yards in eleven plays to pull within one. Todd Geralds scored from the one-yard line with just 26 seconds remaining in the game. Coach Tandy Geralds elected to go for the two-point conversion instead of the tie. Yarbrough tackled Matt Bratton in the backfield before he could get near to the goal line and Sheffield still led 13-12.

           Deshler was knocked from the playoffs and Sheffield lost the following week to Hanceville 28-7 to end their season. Deshler outgained Sheffield 218-181 in total offense but it was little consolation to the losing team. Sheffield actually did not complete a pass the entire game and netted only five first downs in the victory.

           Two weeks earlier on Oct. 31, Deshler and Sheffield met at Howard Chappell Stadium as a light rain fell on the football field. The game would decide the region championship for the 1985 season. Sheffield entered the game riding an eight game winning streak while Deshler was 6-3.

           The Bulldogs of Sheffield held a 7-0 lead most of the game after Chandler Willingham scored on a 27-yard run with 3:59 left in the first half. The Bulldogs drove 90 yards to paydirt for the first score.
    
           The Deshler Tigers put together an 85-yard drive in the waning minutes of regulation to tie the game and send it to overtime. The key play in the drive was a 34-yard pass from Russ Cleveland to Andy Elledge down to the one-yard line.  

           Todd Geralds scored on the next play. The Tigers decided to go for a two-point conversion to win the game then and there. The play worked but Deshler had too many men on the field and decided to kick the extra point instead. Matt Bratton was true on the point after and the game was tied 7-7 with 1:10 left on the game clock in the fourth.

           Sheffield ran out the final minute of the clock and the teams went to overtime. The Tigers got the ball first and scored on a Matt Bratton 9-yard run on second down. The extra point kick was wide but the Tigers held a 13-7 lead. Now they just needed to hold Sheffield for the win.

           The Tiger's defense held for the first three plays and it all came down to a fourth and goal play. Sheffield called timeout to discuss the strategy before lining up for the critical play. Quarterback Chris Tucker found Shea Caudill in the end zone for the game tying pass. Fred Grabryon booted the extra point and the Bulldogs could celebrate a hard-fought victory.


           The win gave the Bulldogs the Class 4A Area 16 championship and a first round home game in the playoffs. Sheffield defeated Colbert Heights 13-0 while the Tigers beat Wilson 35-21 on the road to set up the rematch on Nov. 15.


            Both teams will long remember the two games they played in 1985 at Deshler.



First Game
Sheffield .......................................   0   7   0   0  7 -14
Deshler ........................................   0   0   0   7  6 -13
 
Sheffield - Chandler Willingham 27-yard run (Fred Grabryon kick) 3:59
Deshler - Todd Geralds 1-yard run (Bratton kick) 1:10
Deshler - Matt Bratton 9-yard run (kick wide) overtime
Sheffield - Chris Tucker pass to Shea Caudell (Fred Grabryon kick) overtime
 
 


Second Game
Sheffield .......................................   0 13   0   0 -13
Deshler ........................................   6   0   0   6 -12
 
Deshler - Russ Cleveland 30-yard pass to Andy Elledge (kick missed) 5:35
Sheffield - Ronald Yarbrough 9-yard run (Fred Grabryon kick) 8:59
Sheffield - Ronald Yarbrough 77-yard run (kick missed) 1:02
Deshler - Todd Geralds 1-yard run (two-point attempt failed) 0:26
 
 


Sheffield
1985

8/29 0 Coffee . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
9/6 17 Brooks . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
9/13 17 Hazel Green . . . . . . . 3
9/20 21 Bradshaw . . . . . . . . . . 0
9/27 28 Lauderdale County . . . 14
10/4 10 West Point . . . . . . . . 7
10/11 31 Central Florence . . . 0
10/18 12 Muscle Shoals . . . . . 0
10/25 22 Wilson . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
11/1 14 Deshler . . . . . . . . . . . 13
11/8 13 Colbert Heights * . . . 0
11/15 13 Deshler * . . . . . . . . . 12
11/22 8 Hanceville * . . . . . . 27

206 11-2 131

* Playoff game
Deshler
1985

8/29 14 Bob Jones . . . . . . . . . 13
9/6 13 Muscle Shoals . . . . . 21
9/13 21 Colbert Heights . . . . 7
9/20 0 Colbert County . . . . . 34
9/27 38 Central Florence . . . 14
10/4 27 Bradshaw . . . . . . . . . . 3
10/11 14 Brooks . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
10/18 14 Russellville . . . . . . 18
10/25 42 Lauderdale County . . . 14
11/1 13 Sheffield . . . . . . . . . 14
11/8 35 Wilson * . . . . . . . . . . 21
11/15 12 Sheffield * . . . . . . . 13

243 7-5 179

* Playoff game



  The Memorable Games, a series on the important and memorable games in high school football history

David Parker
  AHSFHS.org
  dparker@ahsfhs.org



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