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Hoover beats TCHS with fourth quarter rally


Hoover High School's Kyler Jackson (2) breaks the tackle of Tuscaloosa County's Ted Colburn (42) Friday at Tuscaloosa County High School in Northport. (Photo by Jason Harless)


NORTHPORT | With the Region 5 championship at stake, the Tuscaloosa County Wildcats entered the fourth quarter with a three-point lead over Hoover, the top-ranked team in Class 6A.

The Buccaneers responded with three touchdowns — one on an 80-yard run by Calen Campbell — and claimed the region title with a 28-10 victory.

Campbell gained 107 yards on 18 carries. His 1-yard touchdown run gave the Bucs the lead for good with 11:40 left. Quarterback Connor Short, who missed last week’s win against Minor with a toe injury, threw two touchdown passes to Michael Powers.

“I’m proud of our kids for the way they fought,” TCHS coach Lee Gibson said. “Every once in a while the other team is going to get a couple of breaks, and they got some in the fourth quarter.”

A 31-yard field goal by Emiliano Ramirez gave the Wildcats a 10-7 lead with 1:35 left in the third quarter.

Hoover (9-0, 7-0) faced first-and-13 after a penalty, and the Wildcats swarmed Campbell for what appeared to be a 5-yard loss. TCHS, however, was hit with a 15-yard facemask penalty that gave Hoover a first down. Short’s 27-yard pass to Alex Elam put Hoover at the TCHS 2, and the Wildcats were penalized a yard for a horse-collar tackle. Campbell scored on the next play, and Hunter Schmith’s extra point boosted the lead to 14-10.

The Wildcats’ next possession ended with an interception by Joe Stephens, but TCHS got the ball back by forcing a punt. After a TCHS punt, Hoover started from its 20. Campbell took a handoff on a power sweep to the left and scored with 7:35 left.

“I’m just a product of a good offensive line,” Campbell said. “I got it to the outside. A guy came, but I tried to stick him and just run like the wind.”

During its last possession, Hoover faced fourth-and-8 from the TCHS 41. Hoover coach Josh Niblett decided not to punt, and Short threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Powers with 1:19 left.

TCHS quarterback Tyler Gates completed five passes during the final drive. Rasheed Artis caught a pass for a gain of 7 yards to the Hoover 7, but was shaken up on the tackle when he got hit in the abdomen. Gibson said he thought Artis would be fine, but he was taken to the hospital for additional tests. Gates threw to Tylan Perry on the last play, but he was stopped a yard short of the end zone.

TCHS tied it at 7 in the third quarter when Gates threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Artis, who picked up a block from receiver Allen Cooks along the right sideline.

“That was a great run by (Artis), a great block by Allen Cooks,” Gibson said. “It was just a tremendous effort.”

Gates completed 19 of 27 passes for 173 yards. Short completed 17 of 29 attempts for 217 yards.

Hoover got its first touchdown on a 12-yard pass from Short to Powers with 8:29 left in the second quarter. TCHS hasn’t allowed a point in the first quarter all season. Lucas Webb recovered a fumble to stop Hoover’s first possession. In the second quarter, defensive lineman Hunter Jenkins intercepted a pass and made a return of 52 yards to the Hoover 22. Hoover’s defense came up with a sack for a loss of 9 yards, and the Wildcats wound up missing a field-goal try.

TCHS (7-2, 6-1) plays at Pell City next Friday. The Wildcats will host a first-round playoff game on Nov. 9.

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