Big plays lead Cordova back to playoffs

By W. BRIAN HALE, Eagle Sports Writer
Posted 10/25/19

CORDOVA — A critical, time-consuming offensive scoring drive followed by an equally pivotal defensive stop in the waning moments of the fourth quarter helped the Cordova Blue Devils clinch a 35-26 victory over the Haleyville Lions — as well as securing Class 4A, Region 5’s fourth-place postseason spot on Thursday night.

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Big plays lead Cordova back to playoffs

Posted

CORDOVA — A critical, time-consuming offensive scoring drive followed by an equally pivotal defensive stop in the waning moments of the fourth quarter helped the Cordova Blue Devils clinch a 35-26 victory over the Haleyville Lions — as well as securing Class 4A, Region 5’s fourth-place postseason spot on Thursday night.

The win culminates a stellar four-game winning streak by Cordova — which struggled to an 0-5 start on the year, only to battle into the playoffs after improvement by the team each week.

“It’s all about our players and coaches never giving up. There’s been a lot of struggles and battles, but we’ve been a second-half team all year long,” Cordova head coach Justin Jones said. “I’m just proud of our kids and to give our community what it deserves, a place in the playoffs. I’m proud of our program, it’s a step in the right direction. It’s a great week for Cordova football — a middle school championship and clinching a playoff spot, doesn’t get much better than that.”

Justin Wallace and his offensive line turned in another excellent performance, rushing for 228 yards on 28 carries with four touchdowns. Kason Smith totaled 278 yards on the night, passing for 198 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while rushing for 80 yards on eight carries. Smith’s top receiver was Adam O’Rear with five catches for 112 with a touchdown.

Ashton Nash led the Blue Devil defense with four tackles including two tackles for a loss, a sack and a forced fumble, while Jacob Kiser had four tackles with a tackle for a loss.

Cordova got on the scoreboard on its second possession of the game on a 29-yard run by Wallace. Eli Quich-Escobar connected on the first of his five successful extra point kicks to put the Blue Devils ahead 7-0.

Haleyville responded late in the first quarter on a 52-yard drive but failed on the two-point conversion to leave Cordova on top, 7-6.

The Lions took control of the game in the second quarter after 50-yard drive, but came up short again on the two-point conversion for a 12-7 lead.

Prior to the half, Cordova scored on a 10-play, 80-yard drive, with Smith connecting with O’Rear on a 36-yard touchdown pass to take command, 14-12.

The Blue Devils opened the third quarter scoring following a 68-yard drive, ending on a 13-yard run by Wallace for the 21-12 edge.

Cordova’s Jacob Kilgore recovered a Haleyville fumble on the ensuing drive, setting the Blue Devils up at the Lions’ 35 yard line. Six plays later, Wallace found the endzone on a two-yard run to extend the lead to 28-12.

The Lions scored two quick touchdowns on drives of 45 and 80 yards, but were successful on one of their two-point conversions to pull within two, 28-26.

Late in the fourth quarter, Cordova put together the game-winning drive — 14 plays on 71 yards, with Wallace scoring on a one-yard run, 35-26.

The Blue Devils’ defense solidified the victory on the final Haleyville drive when Nash forced a Lions fumble on a sack, which was recovered by Jordan Perrin — allowing Cordova to run out the final minutes off the clock.

The Blue Devils (4-5, 3-3) conclude the regular season next week when they host the West Point Warriors.