By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
A local television sports anchor, who shall remain nameless, told his videographers and reporters to come up with a nickname for Fultondale quarterback ArDarius Stewart, after a competitor gave Carneal Williams the nickname “Cadillac.”
On Friday night, Stewart put on a show like he’s never done before, and that anchor’s videographer came up with the nickname.
If you were a fan of second-ranked Fyffe, The Truth hurts. If you root for the Wildcats, The Truth shall set you free.
And The Truth sent his team into the AHSAA Class 2A quarterfinals, thanks to a seven-touchdown, 350-yard game as Fultondale trounced the previously-unbeaten Red Devils by a 49-28 score.
Stewart, the senior quarterback/safety who’s committed to Alabama, made trips to the end zone twice before the crowd got settled in their seats.
Four plays after the opening kickoff, he broke two tackles in a 21-yard scoring dash with just 94 seconds ticked off the clock.
Then, after Ian Tinsley recovered a fumble on the subsequent pooch kickoff, Stewart took the ball 30 yards on the exact same route for another touchdown, 29 seconds after the first.
Late in the first quarter, the Wildcats took advantage of the Devils’ second turnover, this one a pass interception by Khyree Robinson. Four plays later, Stewart did the honors again from five yards out. The extra-point kick was blocked, leaving the hosts up 20-0 after one quarter.
Fyffe struck back quickly, with their potent running back duo of Randy Blackwell and Trenton Thrash finally gearing up. The tandem moved the ball 65 yards in just five plays, with Stacy Bates finishing it off on an 18-yard run — a play that had to be discussed at length by the officials, as Bates was originally ruled out of bounds just before the pylon.
Stewart responded on the next drive with another downfield march, capped off by walking in untouched from the 6. He then threw a two-point conversion pass to his younger brother, Jared.
The Devils cut the halftime margin to 28-14 with a 12-play drive, with Randy Blackwell ending it with the first of his three touchdowns on the night.
After the break, Fyffe took the kickoff and moved quickly, with Blackwell running around left end for a 30-yard scoring play.
But Stewart answered again, breaking two tackles on his way to his fifth TD, this time from the 25-yard line midway through the third period.
After the Devils’ next drive stalled on downs at the Wildcat 21, Stewart made quick work. He took the ball on the first play of the possession and headed down the home sideline for 79 yards.
Four minutes into the final period, Stewart logged his final score of the night, breaking through the middle of the Fyffe line for 42 yards.
Blackwell added another touchdown late, this time on a punch through the line for 16 yards with 5:07 left.
In any other game, two running backs who run for more than 100 yards each would be enough or the win, but not so for the Devils. Blackwell gained 166 yards on the night, and Thrash had 103. But they were pretty much the whole package for Fyffe, as the passing game was non-existent — three pass attempts with no completions and the Robinson interception.
Fultondale coach Keith Register ran out of superlatives to describe his star weeks ago.
“If you took a picture of what he did down this sideline [the 79-yard run in the third quarter], that summed it up,” Register said. “I’m just glad he scored and we had fun with it.”
“We played perfectly, and that’s what we wanted. We had one bobbled snap, but that was it. We played like we should.”
Scherod Brown ran for 71 yards on 11 carries, and Robinson had 68 yards on seven rush attempts.
Aside from the two-point conversion, Jared Stewart caught the only other pass of the night, this one from ArDarius for nine yards.
Derric Pollard totaled 12 tackles for Wildcats, Kadarrius Lawrence had 11 and Julian Hardy 10.
The win for the Wildcats (10-2) ends Fyffe’s winning streak at 11 games, and sets up a quarterfinal meeting at home with top-ranked Tanner next week.
And at this point for Register, it’s all gravy.
“I’m just going to have a smile on my face. If we get beat by them — well, that’s why we play this game. We’ll just line ‘em up and see what happens.”