Daphne, Ala. – The storied high school career of T.J. Yeldon came to an end in Prattville last Friday as the Daphne Trojans fell to Prattville Lions 13-3. The Auburn commitment won a state championship as a junior at Jordan-Hare Stadium, but it wasn't meant to be as a senior as the Trojans fell in the second round.
"We've got a bunch of great seniors," said Daphne head coach Glenn Vickery. "T.J. is obviously one of them. He's been a great leader, a great kid and a great competitor. He's a true student-athlete. We're very proud of all of our seniors and T.J. as well."
Yeldon, who rushed for more 2,000 yards on the season and averaged more than nine yards per carry, was held to 90 yards on 27 carries versus Prattville. His longest rush of the night was 13 yards. He also had four receptions for 20 yards.
It was a mistake-prone night for the Trojans as Prattville picked off two passes in the end zone, and another at the 12-yard line. Daphne also missed a pair of field goals in the third quarter that were for the lead or a tie.
Long after the game had ended, Yeldon sat on the 10-yard line with his helmet on and too emotional to comment to the media.
It was long celebration for Prattville, knocking off a program that been victorious in 25 of its last 26 contests heading into the night.
"It was great play by our secondary," Prattville head coach Jamey DuBose said. "The pass rush came on in the second half. But being able to contain Yeldon was the biggest thing because he's been their spark plug. He's been the guy that leads their team. We felt like if we could eliminate him we had a great chance to win.
"This is the best game we played all year," DuBose added. "It was called a challenge. We challenged (our players) way back on Sunday. We walked off the field on Friday when we knew that Daphne had won. We said, ‘Here comes the challenge.' Again, I think T.J. Yeldon is an absolute great athlete. I think he is going to be a Sunday player in the NFL. I think he's a wonderful kid from what I know of him. And I think he's a tremendous player. I think he's going to do all that, but tonight the Prattville Lions had a great answer."
Daphne took the opening drive of the game down the field for three points, but the Lions answered right back with three of their own on the ensuing possession. The score remained even at three until the third quarter when Prattville connected on another field goal.
Leading 6-3 to start the fourth, Prattville senior quarterback/athlete Jalen Whitlow raced 79 yards untouched to extend the lead to 13-3. It was all the points the Lions needed at Daphne threatened to score a couple of times but could never capitalize.
"Our defense really played well," Vickery said. "You've got to get some points, but we didn't get some points. But our defense really played well. I thought it was really one of our best defensive performances of the year. The big play really hurt us. Again, when you're playing Prattville you're playing a three-phase team. They're good in all three phases. I'm proud of our kids."
Prattville, loaded with talented prospects in the junior and senior classes, got off to a slow start to the season with a loss to St. Thomas Aquinas of Ft. Lauderdale in the opener and a loss to Opelika on Sept. 23. However, the Lions haven't lost a game since and are looking for their first state championship since the three-peat from 2006-2008.
"We tell our kids that we're 2-0 now," DuBose said. "We've been getting better every week. Around here playoffs are big -- just like Daphne. Daphne and Prattville have not had many match-ups over the last few years, but in the South, it's always been through Daphne and Prattville. So tonight we thought this was going to be a state championship match-up. We happened to get the upper hand.
"Daphne is an unbelievable team," DuBose added. "This was an Alabama/LSU from last week. It was defensive battle, and it was just like that. Luckily we got a big win here, we'll take it and we'll move on to the third round."
Prattville will play at Fairhope on Friday.