Pirates go to Cuthbert, sneak by Red Devils

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

CUTHBERT -- It's all about momentum.

And while Randolph-Clay had it at the start of the second half against Miller County on Friday night, the Pirates took it away faster than the crowd snatched up the barbecue on the sidelines.

T.T. Barber had 126 of his 155 rushing yards in the first half and Juwan Jones had a key 95-yard kickoff return for a score as the Pirates defeated the Red Devils, 21-12, in a crucial Region 1-A game.

"Our kids played real hard and didn't give up, we just came up short and ran out of time," said Randolph Clay coach Daniel McFather, whose team fell to 5-3 overall and 1-3 in region. "But Miller coach (Frank) Killingsworth does a great job over there. We knew what they were going to do, but we couldn't stop (Barber) in the first half ... and that kickoff return really hurt us."

The "T.T. Train" gave Miller the initial momentum on his 14-yard run with 4:11 left in the first after runs of 29 and 18 yards.

"I did OK. I could have done better, but I'm not going to complain about the (score on the scoreboard)," said Barber, who carried the ball 23 times Friday. "We did what we had to do."

Barber set his team up again with 10:57 left in the second, and Marvin Grant ran it in from 6 yards out to make it 13-0 Pirates after a blocked PAT.

The score stayed that way until halftime, but Johnny Foster and Randolph-Clay came out in the second half on fire, scoring on a 75-yard drive that ended with a 5-yard run by Foster to pull within 13-6 after the Red Devils missed their own PAT.

That's when Jones, a senior, had his kickoff return, stuffing Randolph's momentum before it really started.

"That was a momentum-killer," Killingsworth said. "The momentum was over here on the sideline, eating one of the rib sandwiches they got (here), and we put that one back in (the end zone) to kind of kick the steam out of them."

It was the longest return of Jones' career.

"We were slacking on defense and I didn't make some tackles I should have made," Jones said. "(So) I had to step up and make a big play for the team."

Foster struck again for the Red Devils just two minutes later on a 9-yard run to his right to make it 21-12 Miller, but that completed the scoring for both teams.

"I was happy with the running game," Killingsworth said. "I thought we blocked well, but Randolph-Clay got after us. They have some athletes. They played really hard."

Foster finished with 128 yards on 20 carries, and now has 1,088 rushing yards and 12 TDs for the season. Cardaryle Curry added 34 yards on 10 carries for the Red Devils.

"We always seem to make pretty decent halftime adjustments, and we talked to our line and told them what holes were open and we were able to hit them pretty quick," said McFather, whose team held Barber to 29 yards in the second half. "I (just) hope we bounce back next week against Calhoun, and it depends on what (they) and Seminole do for the playoffs. We need some help."

As for Miller (6-2, 4-1) -- which has clinched at least a No. 3 seed -- it will try to improve even more before facing Seminole in the annual "Family Feud" on Friday,

"All year long, we set goals for ourselves. We're not going to be able to meet our goal of winning region, but we have a pretty good football team and we'll make some noise in the playoffs," Killingsworth said. "That's what's expected in Miller County."