Marion County clinches region title with win over Pickens County


Pickens County’s Jermarcus Brown looks to break a tackle against Marion County defenders. (Photo by Erin Nelson)


 

REFORM | The Marion County Red Raiders displayed all their weapons Friday night in defeating previously unbeaten Pickens County.

The No. 1-ranked Red Raiders rushed for 476 yards on 53 attempts and clinched the Class 1A, Region 5 championship with a 45-27 victory.

Pickens County, which was ranked No. 5 in the latest poll, took a 21-14 lead in the second quarter, but it didn’t last. Marion County, which won the Class 1A championship last year, led 35-21 at halftime.

“They do what they do, and you’ve got to be very disciplined to have a chance to contain them,” said Pickens County coach Patrick Plott. “We weren’t disciplined tonight.”

For Marion County, Sean Wallace rushed for 146 yards on 14 carries and scored two touchdowns. Wallace also threw a 77-yard touchdown pass to Ready Swanigan. Fullback Justin Sanderson rushed for 133 yards on 14 carries with two touchdowns. DeShawn Riebesehl picked up 100 yards on 12 carries, and Swanigan gained 97 on nine attempts.

“The whole deal is we do what we do,” said Marion County coach Randy Funk. “We were able to do it against Pickens County, which has a great, athletic football team. Our kids stay focused most of the time. As long as we do that, we’re in good shape.”

The Red Raiders (8-0, 6-0) received the opening kickoff and drove 76 yards in five plays with Wallace scoring on a 54-yard dash. Pickens County sophomore Jermarcus Brown returned the ensuing kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown.

“That was a good start for us,” Plott said. “When you start like that, you’ve got to finish strong, and we didn’t.”

Marion County regained the lead as Wallace threw a touchdown pass and a two-point conversion pass to Swanigan. Brown answered with a 20-yard touchdown run, and Dalton Perkins kicked the extra point to tie it at 14. Brown rushed for 111 yards on 19 carries.

The Tornadoes took the lead, driving 90 yards after a Gunner Lemons interception in the end zone. Devonte Simon threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Raheem Curry with 9:24 left before halftime. The Red Raiders took command as Sanderson scored on a 10-yard run, Wallace sneaked into the end zone on a 1-yard run and Sanderson had another 10-yard touchdown.

Marion County recovered an onside kick to start the third quarter and got a 41-yard field goal from Ben Riggs. Simon had a 58-yard gain to set up Brown’s 3-yard touchdown run, but the Tornadoes couldn’t score again.

Riebesehl scored the last touchdown on a 4-yard run with 2:55 left.

Pickens County (7-1, 5-1) winds up its region schedule with a game at Berry on Friday.

Reach Andrew Carroll at andrew.carroll@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223