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Red Raiders slip past Pickens County

Pickens County’s Devonte Simon (7) runs beside teammate Deonte Simon (14) during Friday’s game. The Tornadoes came up a point short in their rematch with Marion County. (Photo by Michelle Lepianka Carter )

GUIN | Marion County sealed the win in the closing seconds of Friday night’s AHSAA Class 1A semifinal playoff game, edging out Pickens County, 42-41.

In the final second, the Tornadoes (11-3) attempted a 26-yard field goal but had it blocked by the Red Raiders’ DeShawn Riebesehl to help Marion County (13-1) advance to the championship game next week in Auburn.

"I hate that it came down to that, but I’m glad we were able to win the ballgame," Riebesehl said.

Pickens County found the scoreboard early when Jermarcus Brown ran past the Raiders’ defense, scoring a 70-yard run. But after one quarter the teams were tied at 14.

In the second quarter, Marion County gained possession on an interception, resulting in a 2-yard touchdown run from Justin Sanderson to give the Raiders the lead at the half, 21-14.

"It was a heck of a ballgame with both groups, and my hat’s off to Pickens County. They played their hearts out," Marion County coach Russell Funk said.

Pickens County came out strong after halftime, opening the third quarter with a 66-yard touchdown run from Brown, though a missed PAT kick kept the Tornadoes from evening the score.

Dorryl Swanigan found the end zone for Marion County on a 64-yard pass from Sean Wallace, followed by Riebesehl’s 16-yard touchdown run to keep the Raiders ahead.

Pickens County came within two points at the start of the fourth quarter when Devonte Simon scored on a 15-yard run, but again the conversion attempt failed.

Brown scored the Tornadoes’ sixth and final touchdown on a 42-yard run, and Simon’s conversion put Pickens County within one point.

"We gave it a shot and we just came up short," Pickens County coach Patrick Plott said.

"We had a lot of kids grow up and do a lot of good things for us, and we’ve got a good nucleus coming back next year, so I feel like we should be at the same point next year," he said.

For Marion County, Wallace completed two of four passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Justin Sanderson led Marion County with 81 yards rushing on 17 attempts, followed by Wallace with 76 yards on 18 attempts, Riebesehl with 40 yards on nine attempts and Swanigan with 42 yards on eight attempts.

Marion County plays unbeaten Brantley (14-0) at 3 p.m. Thursday in the Class 1A title game in Auburn.

"We’re back," Funk said. "Now we’re going to have to see what we can do about it."