By Gary Smith
Peabody’s 56-14 win over Union City last week was like Christmas. The Region 7-2A win was a nice present for Golden Tide fans, but involved a long wait for PHS Coach Shane Jacobs and his team.
“We have been so disappointed in ourselves for 10 months. In last year’s playoff game against Union City, we let one get away from us. I was disappointed for the seniors. In 13 years of coaching, that was probably the most disappointing, most difficult loss to get over. So, for 10 months in the offseason, that is the game we have said that we needed to find a way to win. Coach (Jay) Taylor did a good job, offensively. He gave Union City’s defense multiple looks and sets. And, of course, the kids executed everything. We also played well, defensively. There were some areas where we could have played a little bit better, but, obviously, I am extremely proud of the effort,” acknowledged Coach Jacobs.
He noted, “Also, I am proud of our maturity. We were here last year after the big overtime win against Milan and the next week we didn’t play well against Union City. So this year, we got the big win against Milan and then we learned from last year and refocused ourselves, had a great Monday practice and did everything else well for the rest of the week. We had a very focused group and we played well, because we practiced well and understood the game plan. I am very proud for the kids and excited for the coaches. I think all of the coaches did outstanding jobs with the offense and defense. I am happy we found a way to win tonight.”
Peabody found a way to win by controlling the game both offensively and defensively. The Tide exhibited a balanced offensive attack, which evenly divided the 349 total yards between rushing and passing. The PHS defense limited UC’s one-dimensional offense to only 154 yards on the ground and 11 yards through the air.
Also, Peabody relied upon a speed advantage to demonstrate quick strike scoring ability. Of Peabody’s eight scoring drives, only one series went as many as eight plays. The other possessions tallied touchdowns in an average of two plays.
Accounting for Peabody’s scoring were: Noah Halbrook, on a 59-yard TD sprint around the right perimeter; Eli Hammonds, on a 22-yard TD pass (post pattern) from Cooper Baugus; Baugus, on a one-yard QB keeper; Jarel Dickson, on a two-yard power play; Halbrook, on a 73 yard catch and run (bubble route); Dickson, on a one-yard blast; Jacquez Wilkins, on a 23-yard burst and Desmond Tyler, on a 39-yard gallop. Out of Colton Cloyd’s long snaps and Eli Hammonds’ holds, Isaiah Hicks kicked all eight extra points.
Statistically, Peabody registered 178 yards rushing and 171 yards passing for 349 total yards and 11 first downs and Union City managed 154 yards on the ground and 11 yards through the air for 165 total yards and nine renewed series. Tide quarterback Cooper Baugus completed seven-of-nine passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns and the Tornadoes went 2/3/0 in the aerial department.
PHS retrieved its only bobble and UC relinquished three-of-six fumbles. The visiting squad was penalized on eight occasions for 83 yards and the home team was flagged seven times for 62 yards.
Offensive leaders included: rushing – Noah Halbrook, with five carries for 50 yards and a touchdown; Desmond Tyler, with two attempts for 42 yards and one six-pointer; Cooper Baugus, with seven keepers for 36 yards; Jarel Dickson, with nine tries for 27 yards and a pair of TDs and Jacquez Wilkins, with one run for 23 yards and a touchdown and receiving – Halbrook, with four catches for 125 yards and a touchdown; Eli Hammonds, with three receptions for 27 yards and one TD and Josh Parks, with one grab for 19 yards.
Top defenders included: Dickson, with six solo tackles and three assists; Courtlen Wade, with six primary strikes, one secondary hit and a fumble recovery; Jaime Hernandez, with four initial contacts and five help-outs and Wilkins, with four takedowns, two assists, a blocked punt and a fumble recovery. Tyler also blocked a punt.
Explaining the importance of the win, Coach Jacobs, informed, “The win puts us in the driver’s seat in the region. Last year, we were 0-1 and had to dig ourselves out of that hole. Going down the stretch we had to win the last two games against TCA and Adamsville. Our goal is not to just get into the playoffs, but to win this region and earn four playoff games in Walter Kilzer Stadium and get that place rocking in November like we are capable of doing. We want to set ourselves up for a deep playoff run and to do that we have to continue to get better every week and play with great effort like we did tonight.”
Next, PHS (3-0) hosts Humboldt (0-2) on Friday in a non-region game. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.