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  School Football over the past 100 seasons.





The Greatest Games


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          In October, the Jess Lanier Purple Tigers defeated Tuscaloosa County 14-7 in Bessemer to win the area championship in 1997. It set up a rematch in November between the two teams that went down to the wire. The Wildcats scored with ten seconds remaining to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and advance to the Class 6A state championship game.

          The Lanier Tigers got off to a quick start by driving to the Wildcats' one-yard line but were stuffed on fourth down. They came back to score on a 3-yard run by Connie Ash to take a 7-0 halftime lead following a 37-yard drive. The Tigers' defense held the Wildcats to just two first downs in the opening half.

          Wildcat quarterback, Bobby Moore scored on a 3-yard run in the third quarter to tie the game 7-7. A County fumble gave the Tigers possession on the 32-yard line in the fourth quarter. They capitalized on the mistake and a short field to score on a 15-yard pass from Thomas Cox to Howard Acott with 1:55 left in the game. The extra point was blocked but Lanier had a 13-7 lead late in the game.

          The way their defense had been playing, it seemed the Tigers had the game in hand. It looked better after the kickoff as the Wildcats started from their own six-yard line with just 1:49 to play. A first down pass fell incomplete.

          On second down, Moore scrambled for 58 yards down to the Tigers 36-yard line and a first down. Four plays later with just 26 seconds remaining, he found Gabe Rogers over the middle for a 28-yard completion down to the two-yard line. Two plays later, Jamarcus Murray scored on a 2-yard run and Kyle Vanderford booted the game winning point after with just ten seconds remaining in the game.

          The defenses were front and center all evening as neither teams' offense could sustain drives. The game included fourteen punts and only 19 first downs. It was a typical defensive struggle until the last few minutes of the contest.

          The 14-13 win sent the Tuscaloosa County Wildcats to Birmingham to play Benjamin Russell for the Class 6A state championship the following Thursday. The Wildcats defeated Benjamin Russell 28-14 for the first state championship in school history. But without a 94-yard drive in the final minutes the week prior it would have never happened.



Tuscaloosa .......................................   0   0   7   7 -14
Jess Lanier ......................................   0   7   0   6 -13
 
Jess Lanier - Connie Ash 3-yard run (Walker kick)
Tuscaloosa - Bobby Moore 3-yard run (Kyle Vanderford kick)
Jess Lanier - Howard Acott 15-yard pass from Thomas Cox (kick blocked) 1:55
Tuscaloosa - Jamarcus Murray 2-yard run (Kyle Vanderford kick) 0:10


Tuscaloosa County
1997

9/5 38 Holt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
9/12 17 Etowah . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
9/19 38 Hillcrest Tuscaloosa . 14
9/26 17 Vestavia Hills . . . . . 21
10/3 3 Shades Valley . . . . . 35
10/10 29 Hueytown . . . . . . . . . . 6
10/17 55 Northside . . . . . . . . . 7
10/24 7 Jess Lanier . . . . . . . 14
10/31 36 Russellville . . . . . . 13
11/7 34 Central Tuscaloosa . . 31
11/14 27 Decatur * . . . . . . . . . 0
11/21 21 Mountain Brook * . . . 14
11/28 24 Oxford * . . . . . . . . . . 20
12/5 14 Jess Lanier * . . . . . 13
12/11 28 Benjamin Russell # . . 14

388 12-3 236

* Playoff game
# State championship game
Jess Lanier
1997

9/5 12 Hoover . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
9/12 23 North Clayton GA . . . 22
9/19 13 J.O. Johnson . . . . . . 8
9/26 20 Prattville . . . . . . . . 7
10/3 18 Central Tuscaloosa . . 22
10/10 36 Ensley . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
10/17 37 Woodlawn . . . . . . . . . . 0
10/24 14 Tuscaloosa County . . . 7
10/31 12 West End Birmingham . . 7
11/7 14 Hueytown . . . . . . . . . . 3
11/14 41 Bob Jones * . . . . . . . 3
11/21 14 Shades Valley * . . . . 7
11/28 21 Walker * . . . . . . . . . . 8
12/5 13 Tuscaloosa County * . . 14

288 11-3 127

* 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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