NORTHPORT - Senior running back Damien Taylor rushed for three first half touchdowns as the Tuscaloosa Wildcats defeated Paul Bryant 35-0 Thursday night in Wildcat Stadium. The Wildcats defense forced four turnovers in the game to get the shutout to start the 2020 football season.
Tuscaloosa County played well all night long. Paul Bryant had a couple of chances for scores but were turned away by a fumble at the goal line and an interception in the red zone. "We came out with a lot of enery and excecuted early in the game," said Wildcats Head coach Jay Todd. "I would ike to see us finish better but I'm proud of them, they put so much into this. To be able to enjoy this with their fellow students, band and the crowd and just happy for them."
Both teams had to punt the ball on their first possessions but on the second Wildcats possession, Tuscaloosa County drove and scored on a 8-yard touchdown run around the right end to give the Wildcats the 7-0 lead with 4:15 left in the first quarter. After forcing another Paul Bryant punt, Taylor scored again on a 2-yard touchdown run with 9:03 left in the second quarter. With the score Tuscaloosa County led 14-0. A Darrius Williams interception put the Wildcats in good field position that setup the score. "We played fast and played violent," said Wildcats DB Williams. "We win the turnover battle, we win the game. The mindset for us was no one is going to mess with us. We came out hard and had good coaching. This gives us a lot of confidence going into our rivaly week (vs Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa).
With only 1:52 left before the half, Taylor scored his third touchdown on a 14-yard run carring defensive players into the end zone. With the score, Tuscaloosa County took a 21-0 lead. "The offense surprised me tonight," said Wildcats running back Taylor. "We had a rough practice coming into this game and I really didn't know what to expect. The offensive line showed out and I just said to myself, lets play. When we get into the red zone, the coaches tell us we have to score." Score Taylor did with his three touchdowns. The Troy verbal commit had 17 touchdowns last season.
Paul Bryant was moving the ball in their two minute drill but Wildcats defensive back Kameron Jackson intercepted a Paul Bryant pass deep into their own territory and that perserved the 21-0 halftime lead for Tuscaloosa County.
In the second half, Paul Bryant moved the football but two more turnovers kept them out of the end zone. With 10:33 left in the third quarter, Brax Garrison scored on a 2-yard quarterback sneak to give the Wildcats a 28-0 lead. With 5:20 left in the third quarter, Trey Norris jumped on a Paul Bryant fumble to give the Wildcats good field position around midfield but a few plays later Paul Bryant defensive back Jakeon Wilson intercepted a Wildcats pass with 3:10 left in the quarter. After three plays, the Wildcats defense held but on a fake punt Shamar Hunter raced 50 yards to put the Stampede in Tuscaloosa County territory. With Paul Bryant driving Christian Davis pounced on a Stampede fumble inside the Wildcats 5-yard line and Tuscaloosa County took over the ball.
With 1:59 left in the game, Connor White scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to close out the scoring and to give the Wildcats a big 35-0 win. "Coach McGuire did an outstanding job and called a great game," added Todd. "We did a great job of doing what we want to do. We have a new scheme and not having spring practice is just a new day. I thought they did a great job and had a lot of fun out their. When you create turnovers and your running around your going to have fun and we saw that tonight."
Up next, Paul Bryant will host Minor and Tuscaloosa County will travel to Hillcrest.