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Maplesville Beats Fyffe 20-7 in Champions Challenge Battle at Cramton Bowl

  MONTGOMERY --  Maplesville’s Nate Watson struck for big plays on three of his four first-half touches as the defending Class 1A state champs downed Class 2A defending state bchampion Fyffe 20-7 in the first game of the 2017 Champions Challenge season-opening football series at Cramton Bowl Thursday night.
    The AHSAA’s  12th annual Champions Challenge, hosted by the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA), will conclude Friday night with Class 7A Hewitt-Trussville taking on Class 6A Pell City in the large-school game at Cramton Bowl at 7 p.m. Raycom Media is televising the contest live over its stations in Alabama. Check out www.pathtotheplayoffs.com  for local TV information. The AHSAA Radio Network is also broadcasting the contest over the internet and its network of radio affiliates.
     Both teams rolled into the preseason contest with winning streaks of 23 and 15 games respectively after winning state titles at the AHSAA 2016 Super 7  State Championships at Auburn last December. The game will count on neither team’s record, however, since it was scheduled as a jamboree contest.
   Watson, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound senior already verbally committed to Mississippi State, scored on the first play of the first and second quarters, taking the opening kickoff at his own 22-yard line and speeding untouched up the middle for a 78-yard score to start the game. He hauled in a 57-yard TD pass from senior quarterback Thomas Schoener on the first play of the second quarter for a 14-0 Red Devils lead. Late in the second period, he got open once again and raced 73 yards with a pass thrown by freshman quarterback Jackson Abbott  for his third TD of the game.
    In between Watson’s spectacular plays Fyffe kept the ball for almost 15 minutes but saw an untimely penalty and some big defensive plays by Coach Brent Hubbert’s defense to keep them from establishing any real momentum.
    Fyffe kept the ball for 14:51 of the first half to Maplesville’s 9:09. However, the 1A team had 146 yards passing and 219 total yards on 20 plays. Fyffe’s 2A Red Devils had 89 total yards – 82 rushing and 7 yards passing.
    Coach Paul Benefield’s team from DeKalb County cut the lead to 20-7 in the third period when Brody Dalton made an exceptional catch of Payton Stoner’s 24-yard pass for the TD with 6:51 left in the third period. Both teams played their reserves the rest of the game.
    Maplesville had 323 total yards on the night. Watson finished the game with 131 yards receiving on his two catches, had 78 yards on kick returns and seven yards rushing for 216 total yards. Abbott was 4-of-6 passing for 79 yards and a TD, and Schoener was 3-of-5 for 65 yards and a TD – all in the first half. Ryan Morrow was the game’s leading rusher with 100 yards on 15 carries, and Abbott had 32 on seven rushes.
    Fyffe rushed for 207 yards on 44 attempts and passed for 31 for 238 total yards. Payton Anderson and Cage Cochran each rushed for 34 yards on 12 and 4 carries, respectively.  Dalton’s 24-yard catch led the receivers.
    Stoner had an interception he returned for 31 yards on defense for Fyffe.  Dalton had seven tackles and Luke Martin had six. Maplesville linebacker Tristen Thetford had 10 tackles and teammates Jakavian McKenzie and Noah Walls had six stops. Latrell Wilson also returned an interception 25 yards.



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