LEIGHTON — Colbert County forced two key turnovers in the fourth quarter as the Indians held on for a 14-7 victory over Sylvania on Friday night in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs.
A fumble recovered by Doug Tucker and a pass interception by Reni Madden stopped a pair of potential game-tying drives. The Indians (8-4) advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2008.
“We didn’t have our best game tonight.” coach Dale Jeffreys said. “We struggled at times and they kept us from converting on several third downs, but sometimes you are going to have games like that and you just have to win.”
Ryan Carpenter paced the Colbert County offense with 171 yards on 32 carries,
“Ryan played hard tonight. He ran the ball well for us.” Jeffreys said. “We had to change a few things in the second half, but he helped us keep moving the ball.”
Colbert County racked up 292 yards of offense, 259 of which came on the ground, and held Sylvania to 159 total yards.
Sylvania scored in the final seconds of the first half to send the two teams into halftime tied at 7.
Colbert County recaptured the lead with 2:51 remaining in the third, when quarterback Sam Howard ran a quarterback keeper up the middle for 33 yards. Sophomore Sergio Mendoza added the extra point to make it 14-7.
Sylvania had it’s opportunities in the game’s final moments, but the turnovers kept the Rams from rallying.
On a crucial fourth-down play with less than six minutes remaining, Tucker recovered a fumbled snap at the Indian 45. A defensive stand by Sylvania, however, returned the ball to the Rams with 3:10 left. Clayton hooked up with Dax Sharader on three consecutive passing plays to again move into Colbert County territory, but a tipped pass was picked off by Madden to turn the Rams away a final time.
The Indians were able to run out the clock to seal the victory.
Colbert County took the opening kickoff and marched 57 yards on 8 plays for the game’s opening score, when Ryan Carpenter broke free for a 13-yard touchdown run.
“We worked all week to make sure that we didn’t come out flat.” Jeffreys added. “In the playoffs, you just can’t afford to start slow.”
Colbert County appeared ready to break the game open on its next possession, before Tyler Cooper recovered a fumble to slow the Indian’s momentum.
Sylvania struggled to move the ball throughout, but took advantage of a pair for 15-yard penalties late in the second quarter to get within striking distance. Quarterback Joshua Clayton found Keith Bender over the middle with a 13-yard strike that set the Rams up at the Colbert County 2-yard line. On the next play, Tyler Cooper ran up the middle to knot it at 7 all at the half.
Colbert County will travel to meet fifth-ranked Madison Academy (10-2) next week.