PINSON — After another huge night from running back Nick Gibson, the superlatives are starting to get a little repetitive.
The junior ran for six touchdowns and 368 yards, spurring Pinson Valley to a 53-34 comeback win over visiting Moody and the second playoff seed from Class 5A Region 6.
Gibson scored all of the Indians’ offensive touchdowns; the other two scores came on an interception returned for a score by linebacker Elijah Bibbs and a fumble recovery for a score by safety Devon Scarbrough.
But it was Gibson who provided the spark for the home team, as they came out of the halftime break down by six to the Blue Devils. After taking the opening kickoff at their own 22 followed by an incomplete pass, Gibson burst through a hole in the middle of the Moody defense and was gone.
Bibbs’ 55-yard pick-six followed less than two minutes later, which put the Tribe ahead for good.
But Gibson wasn’t done by any means. Starting the next drive on the Pinson 21, he ran all eight plays in the drive. The scoring run of five yards put his total at an even 300 yards for the night, and the third quarter was only halfway over.
The speedster gave the senior-night crowd a little scare when he came up gimpy from a short run on the next possession. He sat out two plays while trainers gave him a once-over, then showed up at the side of coach Matt Oliver, who sent him back into the fray at once.
Gibson responded by shooting straight up the middle for 30 yards and his sixth touchdown.
Okay, young man, were you really hurt?
“I was hurt, but not much. They just twisted my ankle a little. I couldn’t let my team down,” Gibson said with a grin.
Oliver didn’t leave Gibson in just to run up his stats. He was needed to combat Devils quarterback Michael Barron, who had a hot night of his own. Barron connected on four touchdown passes in the first half alone — three of them to Terrell Martin, who consistently found himself wide open in the flats — and scored on a 1-yard sneak to put Moody up 34-27 at intermission.
Barron was having his way with an Indians defense that, aside from Scarbrough’s fumble-recovery touchdown in the second quarter, was hugely ineffective.
“We had some young guys in the secondary who were a little shell-shocked,” Oliver said. “We just had to settle them down, show them what they were doing wrong, and they came out in the second half and played great.”
That defense stiffened nicely after the break, as the Tribe shut out the Devils from that point on. Moody had just three first downs in the second half, and no drive went more than six plays with four three-and-outs.
Gibson scored in the first-half on runs of five, 15 and 23 yards. The first drive included a spectacular play in which he hurdled a Devil defender on a 21-yard gain.
“When [Nick] wants to be, he’s unstoppable,” Oliver said. “I challenged him this week to run more physical, and he did. He was running over people. The play where he jumped the kid — man, I’m glad he’s on my team.”
It was Gibson’s second-best game of the season, ranking below his 446-yard record-book night against Mortimer Jordan.
Barron was 13-for-24 with one interception for the night, but had only 19 of his 196 yards in the second half.
The win locks up the second seed in Region 6 and home-field advantage in the first playoff round on Nov. 8. Their likely foe will be Hartselle.