GORDO, Ala., - Thursday night was proof that when county rivals get together you really can throw out the records.
Pickens County entered the game undefeated at 9-0 and ranked No. 1 in Class 2A while Gordo came in at 5-4 on the year and snapped the Tornadoes streak with a convincing 28-7 victory.
The win was the fourth consecutive for the Green Wave who enter the Class 3A State Playoffs next week against Montgomery Academy.
"We're a young team and have been improving all year," said Gordo head coach David McKinney. "We watched them on film and felt like we had played a lot tougher schedule and it showed tonight. We've been playing good people all year long."
The Green Wave managed only 98 yards of offense on the night but was given a spark by freshman Demario Lanier, younger brother of East Mississippi Community College safety Izauea Lanier. Lanier returned three punts for 117 yards including two for touchdowns. He also caught one pass for 20 yards.
"He's a special athlete," McKinney said of Lanier. "Those (punt returns) were the game breakers. They had a little momentum at the time. He's a very special talent just to be a ninth-grader. We're going to lean on him a lot in the playoffs."
Gordo also got a spark from bruising fullback Gregory Howard in the second half churning out 57 yards on 12 carries and one touchdown.
"(Howard) is a great player," McKinney said. "He sucked it up and got to punishing them there at the end. I felt like they didn't really want to hit him there at the end with him trying to get a first down and get the clock out."
Quarterback Antonio Washington completed 2 of 10 passing for 42 yards on the night and also added a rushing score. Jodeci Jones led the Gordo receiving corps with one catch for 22 yards.
After stopping the Tornadoes on 4th-and-1 from their own 37-yard line, Gordo went to work marching the rest of the way in nine plays scoring on a 3-yard keeper. Howard added the extra point giving the Green Wave a 7-0 lead nearing the end of the first quarter.
The Gordo defense held the Tornadoes to three-and-out on the ensuing possession forcing a punt. Lanier caught the punt at midfield and raced 51-yards down the left sideline for the score. Howard again provided the point after building the lead to 14-0 with seven seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
Pickens County attempted to cut into the lead midway through the second quarter. Following a 60-yard completion from Deion Curry to Dominique Jones, the Tornadoes were turned away by the Gordo defense with four chances from the 4-yard line keeping their two touchdown lead heading into the half.
But It did not take long for Pickens County to strike back in the second half. The Tornadoes took their first play from scrimmage 75-yards into the end zone when James Adams broke loose down the left sideline. Keith Hall booted the PAT cutting the lead in half.
Later in the third quarter, Gordo pinned the Tornadoes deep in their own territory when Howard's 39-yard punt was downed at the 1-yard line. The Green Wave defense forced a three-and-out on the series but when Hall lined up to punt out of his own end zone, the ball slipped out of his hands. He managed to scramble out to the 4-yard line but Gordo took over from there.
It only took the Green Wave two plays to press their advantage when Howard plowed in from 2-yards out. He kicked the extra point as Gordo extended the lead to 21-7
The Green Wave defense again prevented Pickens County from moving the chains on the next drive forcing another punt on the first play of the fourth quarter. Lanier hauled in the punt and raced 46-yards for his second punt return for a score on the night.
"I thought that I had to step it up and make plays for my team because I'm a playmaker," Lanier said. "That's what I did tonight. I'm just happy that we are Pickens County champs."
Howard's extra point was good to end the scoring.
The Tornadoes final attempt to put up points turned into disaster as Eddie Parham picked off Curry in the end zone after the ball was batted in the air twice as the clock wound down.
"We didn't come out with the right type of intensity and they jumped on us early," said Pickens County head coach Scott Marchant. "We didn't respond like we wanted to. When we got behind it seemed to change a lot. They just played better than us tonight."
The Tornadoes picked up 243 yards on offense including 161 yards on the ground.
Adams led the Pickens County rushing attack with 99 yards on seven carries and one touchdown.
Curry hit on 7 of 14 passing for 82 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. Dominique Jones was the leading Tornado receiver with three catches for 66 yards out of the backfield.
Pickens County will hope to bounce back next week hosting Keith in the first round of the Class 2A Playoffs.
Pickens County 0 0 7 0 - 7 Gordo 14 0 7 7- 28
First Quarter GHS- Antonio Washington 3-yard run (Gregory Howard kick) GHS- Demario Lanier 51-yard punt return (Howard kick)
Third Quarter PCHS - James Adams 75-yard run (Keith Hall kick) GHS- Howard 2-yard run (Howard kick)
Fourth Quarter GHS- Lanier 46-yard punt return (Howard kick)
Individual Stats: Rushing: Pickens County- James Adams 7-99, Dominique Jones 13-84, Deion Curry 11-26, Keith Hall 4-(-3), Team 2-(-45); Gordo - Gregory Howard 12-57; Zachary Britt 7-28, Antonio Washington 7-0, Cameron Sanders 2-(-1), Demario Lanier 2-(-3), Jonaquinn Latham 5-(-8), Team 2-(-17)
Passing: Pickens County - Deion Curry 7-14-82-0-1; Gordo - Antonio Washington 2-10-42-0-0, Cameron Sanders 0-3-0-0
Receiving: Pickens County - Dominique Jones 3-66, James Adams 2-2, Maurice Gray 1-11, LaJuan Doss 1-3; Gordo - Jodeci Jones 1-22, Demario Lanier 1-20