By Gary Lloyd
IRONDALE — Statement made.
No. 2 Clay-Chalkville never trailed and rolled over No. 3 Shades Valley 59-27 on Saturday at Frank Nix Stadium.
“I had a feeling it was going to happen,” said Clay-Chalkville junior wide receiver T.J. Simmons.
[VIDEO: Game highlights, post-game reaction from T.J. Simmons, DE Kendell Jones, and head coach Jerry Hood]
The game between the Class 6A heavyweights started Friday night, but was postponed until Saturday after just four plays. On Saturday, Clay-Chalkville scored on its first snap, a 16-yard touchdown pass from junior Tyrell Pigrome to Simmons.
Shades Valley quarterback RaShad Louie fumbled on the ensuing drive, and it was recovered by Clay-Chalkville linebacker Jarrod Reedus. On the next play, Pigrome found Eric Blockum for a 19-yard TD, giving Clay-Chalkville a 14-0 advantage not even three minutes into the game.
Mississippi State verbal commitment Keith Mixon got the Mounties on the next drive when he found the end zone from 29 yards out.
Clay-Chalkville added some trickery late in the first quarter. Lining up for a 22-yard field goal, the Cougars (7-0, 4-0 Class 6A, Region 6) faked and Reedus connected with A.J. Walker for a 5-yard TD. Mixon wasted little time on the ensuing drive, scampering 58 yards for a Mounties TD. The extra point failed, and the game was 21-13 after one quarter.
Clay-Chalkville pushed its lead to 28-13 with 1:39 until halftime when Pigrome found Nico Collins on a beautiful route down the left sideline. The touchdown went for 34 yards. Shades Valley answered before halftime, when Louie hit A.J. Conwell for an 11-yard score. The Cougars led Shades Valley (6-1, 3-1) 28-20 at halftime.
Clay-Chalkville head coach Jerry Hood had an interesting halftime message for his team.
“At halftime I told them, I said, ‘Look, I love you, I love you whether you win or lose, so we may as well go out there and win,’” Hood said.
His team responded.
Pigrome threw an early interception in the third quarter, but three plays later Nick Battle picked off Louie and rumbled 20 yards for the touchdown. The score put Clay-Chalkville up 35-20 midway through the third quarter. Mixon then exploded for a 56-yard TD run for Shades Valley, cutting its deficit to 35-27. That’s as close as the Mounties got.
On the next play from scrimmage, Clay-Chalkville’s Art Smith burst through what looked like a wall of tacklers and went 58 yards for the touchdown. Clay-Chalkville held Shades Valley to negative yardage on its next drive, and Pigrome found Simmons for a 23-yard score early in the fourth quarter to go up 49-27.
A 32-yard field goal by Patrick Millican gave the Cougars a 52-27 advantage with 6:31 to play. The final score came when Pigrome rushed in from four yards out with 2:55 to play.
For Clay-Chalkville, Pigrome completed 15-of-22 passes for 265 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. He also rushed nine times for 133 yards and a score. Simmons caught three passes for 51 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Terrelle West didn’t find the end zone, but he rushed 16 times for 80 yards, and also caught four passes for 92 yards.
Defensively, Kam Prewitt and Battle had interceptions. Reedus had a fumble recovery. Defensive linemen LaDarius Harris and Kendell Jones each had 1.5 sacks. Harris had multiple tackles for loss. Hood said the defense showed “unbelievable toughness and character.” Jones said Shades Valley put up a good fight in the first half. The second half, however, was all Cougars.
“It’s a very big win but we have to focus on our next opponent (Woodlawn),” Jones said.
Simmons said Clay-Chalkville isn’t “anything to play with.”
“When our defense and our offense are on point, we’re a good team,” he said.
He said the most hyped game in the state was “just business as usual.”
“But we still let people know that we should be the top team in Alabama,” Simmons said.
Contact Gary Lloyd at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.