In its first three games of the season, Tallassee’s offense became more and more reliant on Jalyn Daniels and that continued into Friday’s game against Elmore County. He was the go-to back in the first half and scored his second touchdown of the night just before halftime to give the Tigers a lead.
But that was only the beginning of the show for Daniels. He needed only two carries in the second half to rack up 187 more yards and two more touchdowns to stretch out Tallassee’s lead.
“I think a lot of it has to do with his confidence,” Tallassee coach Mike Battles said. “I would imagine right now every time he touches the ball, he feels like he can score. When you’re having some success, it’s easier to continue that.”
Daniels added one more touchdown, finishing with a career-high five scores, leading Tallassee to its first win by defeating the Panthers, 49-21. Daniels came close to the school record in rushing yards, ultimately falling short but still racking up 372 yards on 21 carries to earn Elmore County Player of the Week.
“It feels good,” Daniels said. “Our line is really feeling themselves right now. I knew to just run behind them. I hope we can do it again next week.”
The highlight of the night came moments after Tallassee’s Ziggy Holloway intercepted a pass on his own goal line early in the second half. Battles wanted the officials to call a touchback but instead, they placed inside the 1, forcing the Tigers to start in the shadows of their own goalposts.
Daniels knew he would be getting the ball and he had just one thought on his mind.
“Not to get a safety,” Daniels said with a laugh. “I just had to put my nose down. It was great. When I saw green, I just took advantage of it.”
There was a lot of green in front of him as he took his first carry of the third quarter for a 99-yard touchdown. It was just the 17th time in AHSAA history a player recorded a 99-yard TD run and first in school history.
“That has got to be the farthest touchdown in Tallassee history,” Battles said. “You can’t go any farther unless you start in the end zone and that can’t happen. That was 99 and three-quarter yards. He had a great night.”
If that wasn’t enough, Daniels took his next carry for an 88-yard touchdown to put the Tigers up by three scores. On the next possession, he needed just three carries to record 60 more rushing yards and another touchdown, ending his night early in the fourth quarter.
“He didn’t need many touches,” ECHS coach Jordan Cantrell said. “The first two times he touched the ball in the second half, he was going to the house. We knew coming in he’s a big-time player.”
Daniels has increased his total for rushing yards in each week, building off a 221-yard performance last week. As a slot receiver, Daniels had only five touches in the season-opening defeat to Reeltown but Tallassee moved him into the backfield and he has quickly made an impact, recording 10 touchdowns in the last three games.
“We got him in the right place and that’s the start of it,” Battles said. “We made the decision to move him back there to make sure he could get the football. That’s when he started to execute. It’s worked out well.”