Hoover Ends Prattville Run, Wins 6A Crown

Hoover won the 6A State Championship Friday night over the Prattville Lions 28-23.

Tuscaloosa, Ala.--The fourth meeting between Hoover and Prattville in the 6A state finals was a classic Friday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium as the Bucs took advantage of several costly turnovers by the Lions and held on for a 28-23 victory to end a three-year stranglehold on the title by the Autauga County powerhouse.

Leading 28-10 at the half, Hoover held off a valiant effort by Prattville as the Lions clawed back to within five points late. That's as close as they would get though as a late drive was thwarted by a Leon Carlton interception to seal the win for Hoover.

The win gives Hoover its sixth championship of the decade and the first for Coach Josh Niblett. Running back Rueben Carson led the way for the Bucs with 89 yards on the ground while quarterback Ryan Carter completed 10-17 passes for 117 yards and one touchdown. On defense Landen Moore had 13 tackles for Hoover while Carlton added seven tackles and the MVP honor.

For Prattville Desmond Haley had 105 yards on 15 carries to lead the Lions' offense. Mario Davis added 46 yards as the Lions outgained Hoover 209 to 105 on the ground in the loss.

Hoover wasted no time in showing they were ready for Prattville as the Bucs took the opening drive down for a touchdown and the early lead. Starting the drive from the 21 Hoover methodically moved the ball to the Prattville 41 thanks to a combination of runs from running back Rueben Carson and quarterback Ryan Carter. Facing a first and 10 at the 41, Hoover decided to test Prattville deep and it was successful as Carter hit Maudrecas Humphrey for a touchdown to make it 7-0 Bucs.

Humphrey hauls in a touchdown pass in the first quarter.

Following a three and out from Prattville, Hoover got the ball back on a fumble by Justin McArthur on the Bucs' 24-yard line. However Prattville was unable to do anything with the field position and settled for a 38-yard field goal by Chris Kennedy to make it 7-3.

The Lions took the lead early in the second quarter after marching 87 yards for a touchdown on 16 plays. Only one play on the drive, the first one a 25-yard pass from Sam Gibson to Earl Lucas, went for more than 10 yards as Prattville methodically drove down the field. Cory Lee capped off the drive with a one-yard score with 10:18 left in the half to give Prattville a 10-7 lead.

From that point forward in the first half it was all Hoover thanks to a lot of help from the Lions. Forced to punt on their next possession, the Bucs caught a break when Prattville's Corey Shelton fumbled the punt after being hit by John Propst. Leon Carlton recovered and rumbled in from 10 yards out to put Hoover back in front 14-10.

Shelton again was the gift horse for Hoover as the Prattville defense forced a three-and-out only to see Shelton fumble the punt on his own 12. The ball bounced backwards until it was recovered by Carlton at the three-yard line. The Lions dodged this bullet though as Hoover's Gerald Bryant had his pass intercepted on a diving grab by Kenard Butler. The turnover bug would continue though and this time Prattville wouldn't be as fortunate.

On the first play following the pick, Prattville's Mario Davis fumbled and Justin Dunne fell on the ball for Hoover at the three-yard line. Two Caleb Sims runs later and Hoover held a commanding 21-10 advantage with just over four minutes left in the half. The lead would swell to 18 just minutes later as Carson took a handoff on his own 42 and raced 58 yards for the score, making for a very happy halftime for Hoover.

Prattville inched closer in the third quarter behind the play of back up quarterback Justin Thomas. With Gibson struggling to make anything happen, Thomas was inserted and came through. The sophomore drove the Lions from their own 44 to the Hoover 13 before he took matters in his own hands with a scoring run to cut the lead down to 28-17.

It appeared as if the Lions were going to make it even closer early in the fourth as the Prattville defense stiffened. On the opening series of the fourth quarter Hoover faced a third and seven from its own 44-yard line. Blitzing off the corner, Butler hit Bryant and he appeared to fumble but it was ruled incomplete.

A punt pushed the Lions back to their own 24, but Prattville wasn't deterred. With Thomas still in they drove right down the field with the big play coming on a 46-yard run by Haley. Lee punched it in from the five to cut the lead to five with 7:48 remaining, but the two-point conversion failed. That's as close as Prattville would get in this one though as Hoover held on for the victory.

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