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CHHS upends Demopolis in OT

Stanley Crawford carries the ball against Demopolis (Photo/Michael Clements)

DEMOPOLIS – Charles Henderson scored in overtime then forced and recovered a fumble to preserve a 21-14 victory and advance in the Class 5A playoffs.

The play came one snap after Trojan running back Courtney Downing punched the ball in from a yard out to complete Charles Henderson’s comeback from a 14-point deficit.

“We made some mistakes in the first half,” head coach Hugh Fountain said. “I really proud of how these guys came back in the second half.”

The overtime score came after Charles Henderson quarterback John Bradley scored on a quarterback sneak from a yard out to cut the Demopolis lead to 14-12. Bradley then popped out from under center and found Brandon Gosha for the two-point conversion pass to tie the game with five minutes to play in the fourth quarter.

Demopolis forced a Charles Henderson turnover on downs with 18.9 seconds remaining in the fourth and drove the ball down to the CHHS 34 before missing a 51-yard field goal on the final play of regulation to send the game to overtime.

Downing started the comeback effort for the Trojans in the second half when he scored from two yards out after the Trojans returned a Demopolis fumble to the Tiger 4 on the third play of the second half. Demopolis’ Neilson Renner blocked the Trojan extra point to keep his team up 14-6 with 9:57 to play in the third.

The Tigers got the help of a CHHS holding penalty to avoid a 68-yard scoring run by Downing on the first play from scrimmage before digging in to halt an 11-play drive when Demetrius Kemp sacked Bradley on fourth down.

Demopolis then drove the ball down to the CHHS 7 before the Trojans recovered the first of four Tiger fumbles.

The DHS defense held strong again, forcing a Henderson punt that was blocked by Pierre Thomas on the final play of the first quarter. Kemp caught the deflected punt in the air and returned it 18 yards to give Demopolis the early lead.

Demopolis added to its lead with 5:40 to play in the second quarter when Tyler Oates found Kemp for a 13-yard touchdown pass. Mitch McPherson’s extra point stretched the advantage to 14-0.

The Tigers received the opening kick of the second half and took the ball 22 yards on two plays before committing their third turnover of the evening. Demopolis would go on to muster only 39 more yards on 13 snaps in the remainder of regulation, gaining 26 of those yards on the final two plays before the missed field goal attempt.

“To battle back in the second half like these guys did after all the adversity they have faced makes me really proud of them,” Fountain said.

While Demopolis ran only 16 offensive plays after halftime, Henderson dominated the ball by running 39 plays between the opening kick of the third quarter and Downing’s game-ending touchdown run.

Downing finished with 106 yards rushing for the night while Stanley Crawford ended with 107. The Trojans will face St. Paul’s in round two at Veterans Memorial Stadium. St. Paul’s knocked CHHS out of the playoffs last season in the first round, 42-14.