MILLPORT, Ala. — If at first you don’t succeed, call on your defense and special teams to get things going.
That was the motto of the Pickens County High School football team Friday night in its Alabama High School Athletics Association Class 1A, Region 5 opener against South Lamar.
Jemarcus Brown made sure the defense did its part, scooping up a fumble and returning it 45 yards to help spark Pickens County to a 51-7 victory.
“I went after it and I thought they were going to grab it,” Brown said of the fumble early in the second quarter. “Once I got my hands on it I knew they weren’t going to catch me.”
Pickens County (2-0) needed the spark because even though it connected on a 23-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Devonte Simon to his twin brother Deonte’ Simon on the opening drive, the Tornadoes couldn’t get going. It only took until the first play of the second quarter for the momentum to turn. The Tornadoes stuffed a run deep in the Stallions end zone and caused a fumble. Pickens County senior JaMarcus Smith pounced on the ball to make it 14-0.
Four plays later, Brown made his mark with his fumble return for a touchdown that helped change the game in less than three minutes.
On Pickens County’s next possession, South Lamar forced the Tornadoes into fourth-and-18 from their 45-yard line. Quick thinking by senior quarterback Devonte Simon allowed the Tornadoes to escape the jam. Simon audibled out of a punt and carried the ball 55 yards for the team’s fourth touchdown of the quarter.
“Coach has confidence in us. He gave me an option,” Simon said. “If they were playing like we wanted to, we could audible to it, so we changed the play when we got out there.”
With time winding down in the first half and the Tornadoes leading 30-0, Pickens County had scored three straight touchdowns without using its offense.
Sophomore running back Darrien Latham joined in the fun and made the most of his first carry, taking it 55 yards for a touchdown. “We’re going to try to get him some more carries. He runs hard every time he gets the ball,” Pickens County coach Patrick Plott said. “He’s been doing it in practice every day, so we have to get him more carries.”
The Tornadoes added two more scores in the third quarter before South Lamar punched in a last-minute touchdown run.
Plott said the Tornadoes played well but still have plenty to work on.
“When we come in and watch film Sunday, we’ll point out all their mistakes,” Plott said. “We’ve got to get those cleaned up. We’ve got to get even better next week.”