Prattville Wins Thriller For 6A Crown

Prattville survived a furious run from Hoover to win the Class 6A title.

Tuscaloosa, Ala.—Trailing 28-14 in the third quarter and forced to punt from its own 30-yard line, the Prattville Lions looked to be in dire straits facing the Hoover Bucs in the Class 6A title game, but then Coach Jamie Dubose and his team got the break it was looking for in its quest to win the Alabama Class 6A state football championship game.

A roughing the kicker penalty kept Prattville's drive alive and the Lions went on to score and ride that wave of momentum on the way to the title in a wild finale at the AHSAA Super Six.

"We got lucky," Dubose said. "They went after the block and somehow we got it out and they hit the kicker. We got a break there.

"Football is about breaks," he added. "We found a way to get a break. There isn't a loser here tonight. Even if we had lost I would have said the same thing. That's a great classy football team in Hoover and I'm proud we got the win tonight."

Down two touchdowns and looking lifeless, staring at another three and out on offense, Prattville punter Lawon Debardelaben was hit by a Hoover rusher after a punt to put MVP Justin Thomas and the offense back on the field. Two plays later Thomas hit Brandon Smith for a 47-yard touchdown that started an avalanche for Prattville.

Following a three and out by the Hoover offense, the Lions took over on the Hoover 31 after a 12-yard punt by the Bucs. Six plays later the game was tied as Thomas ran it in from the four for his second touchdown run of the night.

Early in the fourth quarter Prattville took the lead back for good on a Stanley Mays touchdown run from six yards out following a 15-play, 80-yard drive. That looked to be the final nail in the coffin for the Lions, but Hoover wouldn't roll over just yet.

With 4:31 left Hoover drove from its own 23 to the Prattville 24-yard line to come within striking distance of a tying touchdown. Following a pass interference penalty that nullified a Prattville interception, Hoover quarterback Connor Short got greedy and his pass towards the end zone was intercepted by Dallas Powell at the one. Prattville was unable to get a first down however and punted back to Hoover. Running back Dakota Daniel returned the punt 15 yards to the Prattville 30 to give the Bucs one final chance.

Dakota Daniel runs for yardage

After getting a first down Hoover was called for holding. That pushed the Bucs back to the 33. Short hit Michael Powers for a 19-yard gain to the 14 with just over a minute left on first down. Six more yards to Daniel gave them a first down on the eight-yard line. Following a six-yard pass to the two, Short ran in the touchdown for his third rushing TD of the night to make it 35-34. Rolling the dice, Hoover Coach Josh Niblett decided to go for two, but Short's pass came up just short to give Hoover the win.

"All we were trying to do is get a stop right there," Dubose said. "We talk to our kids about the summer workouts, and all the pain and all the suffering, and they responded. We've got a great group of kids. Hoover has a great football team and we were very lucky. We were just fortunate tonight. Thank the good Lord above."

Thomas ran for 151 yards and two touchdowns for Prattville and added 153 yards and another touchdown through the air while Daniel ran for 160 yards on 24 carries for Hoover. Short added 217 yards and a touchdown through the air while linebacker Landry Tullo set a Super Six record with 17 tackles in the loss.

In a game expected to be dominated by Prattville's size and physical stature it was the Hoover Bucs that came out running in the first half of the Class 6A title game, but not before Prattville jumped on top early. Taking the opening kickoff the Lions moved the ball swiftly down the field with a 10-play, 92-yard drive capped off by a Jalen Whitlow touchdown run from nine yards out. Just like that Prattville was up 7-0, but the lead wouldn't last long.

Taking over on its own 23 Hoover went to work behind the passing of Short and the running of the feisty Daniel. Completing an early third down with a pass to Powers, Short got the offense rolling as he hit Josh Jackson for 12 more yards before a 20-yard Daniel run moved the Bucs into scoring position at the Prattville 32-yard line.

Pushing the ball to the nine Short hit Jackson on a third and goal throw to tie things up with just under three minutes left in the first quarter.

The second quarter is when the Hoover running game kicked it into high gear with Daniel shouldering the load. Starting from their own 31 the Bucs took just six plays to score with Short hitting Daniel for 26 yards to put the Lions on their heels. Daniel then carried the ball on four consecutive plays to move the ball to the one before Short ran in for the touchdown to give Hoover a 14-7 advantage.

Prattville answered back in a hurry thanks to the speed of Thomas. Keeping the ball at quarterback he outran the Hoover defense for a 72-yard score to tie the game at 14.

Once again, however, Hoover would answer with its ball control offense. Grinding out 11 plays the Bucs covered 78 yards with Short again taking it over from the one for the touchdown. On the drive Daniel carried the ball four times for 47 yards as he continued to find the seams in the Prattville defense.

The lead would expand to 14 points early in the third quarter as Hoover took the opening kickoff and drove it down the field on the Lions. Short got things started with a 21-yard pass to Jackson and from there Daniel again did his thing with a 14-yard run to move the ball deep into Prattville territory.

Moving the ball to the 18 Hoover went up 28-14 on a run by sophomore Kyler Jackson and it appeared to be Hoover's game to win, but one mistake on special teams proved to be the start of the Bucs' undoing in a wild finish in Tuscaloosa.

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