Simon Says: Cordova The Champs

Cordova defeated Clay County 21-13 for the Class 3A State Championship at Legion Field

Birmingham, Ala.—Talented junior Tim Simon was the star of the game for the Cordova Blue Devils on both offense and defense as he rushed for 142 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries and knocked down two late Clay County pass attempts in a 21-13 victory Saturday at Legion Field.

The win is the first state title for Cordova since 1995 and is the second consecutive loss for Clay County in the championship game. Quarterback Chase Horn led the Panthers with 115 passing yards and also added 17 rushing yards. Tailback Raqual Ward ran 15 times for 80 yards for the Panthers.

Clay County got on the board first thanks to a great individual effort by senior quarterback Horn. Taking the ball over on their own 11-yard line, the Panthers moved the ball to the Cordova 43-yard line on six plays before Horn worked his magic. Pulling the ball down on a quarterback draw, Horn ran up the middle and broke left to daylight. That was the right move as he dodged a tackler and raced all the way for a touchdown. The extra point was good giving Clay County the early 7-0 lead.

Chase Horn attempts a pass in Saturday's game.

Cordova would answer thanks to its own talented quarterback sophomore Ryan Smith. On the second play from scrimmage following the touchdown, Smith hit a streaking Jacob Howton for a 63-yard score to tie the game. Clay County's Win Knight would add a Super Six 3A record 41-yard field goal to put the Panthers back on top 9-7 after one quarter of play.

Knight would again add a field goal early in the second quarter, this time from 40-yards out, to make it 13-7 Clay County. However, Cordova would answer thanks to the running of Simon. Starting the drive at their own 38, the Blue Devils quickly moved to into Clay County territory at the 42 thanks to a pass interference call and one play later Simon got busy.

Bouncing a toss sweep outside from the 35, Simon ran through a tackle before being hauled down inside the 10 at the Cordova seven. A first down carry by Rico Everette netted just one yard before back to back Simon carries put the ball in the endzone. The extra point gave Cordova back the lead with just over six minutes left in the half.

Three plays gained just six yards for Clay County and the Blue Devils got the ball back at their own 35 with just under four minutes left in the half. Once again it was Simon that got things going for the Cordova offense, but this time Clay County's defense would come up with the stop. Moving the ball to the Panther 36, Cordova got a big play from Simon as he busted loose and was dragged down at the one-yard line by the Clay County defense with just seconds left on the clock. A fumbled snap saved the Panthers though as Smith couldn't get a handle on the ball and Clay County recovered to end the half.

The third quarter was a grind it out affair as neither team completed a pass in the period, choosing instead to pound the football. That proved to be fruitful for Cordova as Simon again did the work for the Blue Devils. Taking over at the Clay County 47 following a Ross Cotney fumble, the Blue Devils marched down the field in a hurry as Smith and fullback Daniel Ingram did the early dirty work with Simon finishing things off. Moving down to the 25, Simon hit the line for 10 yards and one play later raced over from the five to give Cordova a 21-13 advantage after the kick.

That's how things would end, but not before Clay County made it interesting late in the game. Taking the ball over near midfield following a seven-yard punt by Simon, the Panthers moved into scoring position thanks to a heads-up call by Coach Danny Horn. With son Chase struggling throwing the football down the field, Horn set up a backside throw to running back Raqual Ward that went for 23 yards and moved the Panthers inside the Cordova 10-yard line. A fumbled pitch moved the Panther back where to the 16-yard line they were forced to try desperation plays on both third and fourth down with goal to go. Both times Simon knocked the ball away to seal the Cordova victory and give the Blue Devils the title.

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