Selma’s offense needed just three plays to move across the 50-yard line and into Stanhope Elmore territory on the opening drive Friday night Amarian Molette picked up even more ground for the Saints but after a 15-yard run, he was hit by Stanhope’s Jaqori Williams which forced the ball loose and into the air.
Fred Moore was the first one to react to the ball and he jumped to take the ball, swinging momentum in the favor of Stanhope and the Mustangs never looked back. Moore is the Elmore County Player of the Week.
“I just saw it in the air and when I saw it, I just went up and grabbed it,” Moore said. “It was like high pointing it for an interception. It got us all back up.”
The fumble recovery was one of two takeaways for Moore and he added three solo tackles and a pass breakup as the Mustangs shut out the Saints to clinch a home playoff game.
Moore’s first takeaway came on one of the few plays Selma got past the Mustangs’ defensive front. However, Stanhope feels like its secondary is just as good as its defensive line and the defensive backs proved that, combining for the turnover.
“We can rely on them even when there is a breakdown up front,” Stanhope coach Brian Bradford said. “Because there are going to be breakdowns; this is football. So that really helps us out because we have a lot of guys who can make plays. And Fred makes a lot of plays.”
The Saints were limited to 35 yards and recorded only four first downs so Moore was not on the field often but he made the most of his time in the secondary.
Bradford said it’s a good thing when your cornerbacks do not get a lot of chances because that means the other team is afraid to throw at them. However, the Saints were forced into passing situations late and that’s when Moore made his final impact.
For just the second time, Selma moved into Stanhope territory and was threatening for the end zone. Stanhope’s TJ Jackson got into the backfield on a third-down play, forcing an errant throw Moore saw immediately. Moore jumped in front of two Selma receivers to intercept the pass and he returned it 60 yards to set up the Mustangs inside the red zone with 6:41 to go.
“Any time you can get a turnover is always big,” Bradford said. “We preach turnovers and that’s something we live on. That’s a shot of adrenaline. You always want the football so that was a big boost for us.”
Although the offense could not turn the good field position into points, the interception helped seal the victory and the shutout for the Mustangs.
“Our goal every week is for a shutout,” Bradford said. “The kids want to finish the game so whenever they get a little bit of momentum — like they got a couple of big plays there — but then he got that interception. It was kind of like a backbreaker.”
While Moore’s teammates were giving him some grief for getting caught before scoring on the interception return, he knew what the takeaway meant to his team and the defensive unit. However, the shutout and the home playoff game is not something Moore and the Mustangs are satisfied with.
“That means a lot to us,” Moore said. “(Being) 7-1 means a lot but we’re just ready to keep it rolling.”