What happens when two physical high school football teams with nothing to lose are pitted against each other on a Friday night in late October? The fans get their money’s worth as the hometown Tallassee withstood the sting of the Beauregard Hornets en route to a 35-28 win in Class 5A Region 2 action.
“That was just a 12-round slugfest of a high school football game,” Tallassee coach Mike Battles said. “(Beauregard) came to play and they had a good game plan and did some things that were tough for us to stop. They were ready and I thought we were dragging in that first half.”
The win over the Hornets (1-9, 1-5) marked Battles’ first since he arrived in Tallassee.
Beauregard, which tasted victory for the first and only time last week in front of their blue-clad faithful, jumped out front Friday night thanks to a 40-yard touchdown run by Hunter Gasaway.
The senior signal-caller finished with nearly 300 yards highlighted by 195 yards passing.
“We’ve got a tough football team,” Hornet coach Rob Carter said. “We’ve endured a season not like we’re used too. But these kids were prepared (Friday) and, these seniors wanted to go out with a hard-fought battle and have us in a position to win the game at the end. That’s what they did.”
The Tigers crashed the point after but trailed 6-0.
However, Tallassee (4-4, 3-3) found its stride in the second quarter scoring twice to take a 13-6 lead.
Truck Griffin, who finished with 214 yards on 23 carries, struck first on a 1-yard run that was set up by a 9-yard Zavion Carr run. Carr contributed 12 carries for 75 yards and that touchdown put Tallassee ahead 7-6.
The Tigers scored again at the 2:35 mark on a 6-yard Griffin eruption into the end zone. The senior left laying a swarm of Hornets on his way to the end zone for the score.
The Tigers went for two but it was stymied, moving the mark to 13-6.
Playing the final game of their 2019 campaign, the Hornets answered with a 24-yard scoring pass from Gasaway to Lazerious Tolefree.
“(Gasaway) is an excellent athlete. He’s good with his legs and his arm and he’s got the great ability,” Carter said. “He absolutely gave us an opportunity to move the sticks on some drives with his legs.”
Gasaway called his own number on the 2-point attempt and fielded a bad snap around the 10-yard line, turned the corner and outran the defense for the score.
“We were letting them get some big plays,” Griffin said. “But we’re able to tighten up.”
The Hornets carried a 14-13 lead into intermission.
“You have two teams that are traditionally pretty strong that haven’t had the year they wanted too,” Battles said. “It was a war of attrition. You look out there and you see who can hang in there and play at that level for 48 minutes.”
Physicality became the keyword in the Tallassee locker room.
“Tougher … That’s it,” Battles said. “That’s what we needed to be. I felt like in the first half they were hitting us and we were out there standing around. I tried to explain to our kids that (Beauregard) is coming off their first win of the season where they scored a lot of points and this is their last game of the season. You better believe that’s an extra motivation. We are catching them at the absolute worse time.”
The Hornets took flight late in the third quarter on an 80-yard touchdown pass from Gasaway to Tolefree for the score.
The Tigers answered with Jalyn Daniels fielding the ensuing kickoff and returning it across midfield. Griffin eventually capped the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run. Tallassee elected to go for two on a fake point after, but the pass fluttered to the ground.
Trailing 21-19 in the fourth, the Tigers took the lead thanks to a turnover. Dalton Lanier intercepted a pass and Griffin eventually scored again.
“When we took the lead,” Griffin said, “that’s when we knew that we could take it to them and take control of the game.”
Battles said, “I challenged those kids to dig down deep and find that little extra. And Truck does what he does. He took the team and put them on his back like he’s done all year.”
Leading 27-21, Tallassee got breathing room a few minutes later when Griffin broke loose on a 58-yard touchdown run, his longest run of the night, and Daniels scored the two points after to put Tallassee ahead 35-21.
Beauregard answered though on a 1-yard Gasaway run at the 2:17 mark and found itself in position to tie the game with under a minute to go.
“This is what our kids have done all year, they’ve played tough and put us in positions to win,” Carter said. “We just weren’t able to stick it in there at the end.”
But, on fourth and long, the pass to the end zone fell to the turf ending the threat and securing the Tigers victory.
“I’m happy for these kids,” Battles said. “This is one of those keynote wins that some of our other classes who may have won more game didn’t get. This class got that win, so I’m proud of them for that.”