Pippen And Falcons Fly To Title

Central Tuscaloosa raced to a 34-7 victory over Deshler to win the Class 4A State Championship at Legion Field.

Birmingham, Ala.--In a game that featured the speed and athleticism of the Central Tuscaloosa Falcons' spread offense against the disciplined system of the Deshler Tigers, it was the players that won out as Central dominated the contest behind the play of Inside The Auburn Tigers MVP DeMario Pippen and won going away 34-7.

Rushing 13 times for 108 yards and a touchdown, Pippen led the Falcons on the ground, caught three passes for 27 yards to also lead the team, and added 68 yards on two kickoff returns. The game MVP as voted by the media (not ITAT) went to Central quarterback Jeremy Williams as he ran 10 times for 28 yards and a score and completed 6-16 passes for 55 yards and a score, but it was Pippen that set the tone in this game.

Early on it looked like system might win out over athleticism as Deshler took over with good field position on its second drive and promptly moved the ball for the first score of the game. Starting at their own 45, the Tigers moved the ball down to the Central 14 on just five plays before quarterback Chase Blackburn hit tight end Coleman Miller over the middle for a touchdown. It was Blackburn's 21st touchdown of the season and gave the Super Six mainstay Deshler the early lead.

It didn't take long for the Central Falcons to answer and much of the reason for that was Pippen. Taking the ensuing kickoff at his own 12-yard line, Pippen ran left and found a seam in the Deshler coverage. Taking it back 51 yards, Pippen put the Falcons in prime scoring position. From there it would take the Falcons 10 plays to push it across before quarterback Jeremy Williams snuck over from a yard out. A blocked extra point left the lead at 7-6 Deshler.

From that point forward it was all Central as they went to work and took over in dominating fashion in the third quarter. Starting at their own 22, the Falcons put together an eight-play drive for a touchdown that was done in impressive fashion. The star of the drive was the diminutive Pippen. At just 5-8, 180 pounds, Pippen ran the ball five times for 51 yards on the drive and capped it off with a 26-yard jaunt over left tackle for a score.

Central's defense then came up with a stop to set up the next score as a bad snap on a punt gave the Falcons the ball at the Deshler 11-yard line. It wasn't easy though as it took a fourth down pass from Williams to Marquis Wells covered nine yards. A failed two-point conversion attempt left the score 20-7 Central with 4:25 left in the first half.

The final touchdown of the half was the most impressive and perhaps the play that broke the spirit and back of the Deshler team. Taking over at their own 30-yard line, the Tigers moved the ball to the Central 34 where they faced a fourth and five with just under one minute left in the half.

Dropping back to pass, Deshler quarterback Chase Blackburn attempted to stretch the defense on the right side. His only problem is that manning that side of the defense was junior Jonathan Edwards.

One of the top defensive back prospects in the state for next season, Edwards entered the game with 12 interceptions in 14 games. Making a play on the ball, Edwards pulled it down with one hand and turned to head up the field only to be grabbed by a Deshler defender. Pitching the ball back to teammate Trevon Lawson, Edwards started one of the most exciting plays in Super Six history.

Trevon Lawson races for the score after getting a pitch from teammate Jonathan Edwards.

Taking the pitch, Lawson ran right and hit the sideline full speed. Outrunning the Deshler team, Lawson raced the final 70 yards to give Central a commanding 26-7 lead with just 34 seconds left in the half. Williams ran in a two-point conversion to make it an even 21-point lead at the break.

Both defenses stiffened in the third quarter as neither offense could anything of substance in the quarter. Deshler took over at its own 29-yard line with 10:48 needing desperately to make something happen or see the season come to an end. Putting together an 11-play drive that saw them get as deep as the Central 25-yard line, Deshler was put in a tough situation when big defensive tackle James Brown sacked Blackburn for a seven-yard loss on first down. Following a false start, Blackburn's pass was deflected by Central defensive back Dondrell Wesley into the hands of teammate Jeffery Gordon to put an end to Deshler's hopes. Central tacked on a late touchdown on a six-yard Derrick Cade run to make the final 34-7.

The victory gives Central its second state championship with the only other one coming in 1995. It finishes off a perfect 15-0 season for the Falcons that saw them score at least 28 points in every game.

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