FULTONDALE — With top running back Khyree Robinson out for the season with a torn ACL and a somewhat-gimpy quarterback, Fultondale coach Richie Busby was in desperate need of someone to step up and take command of their first-round playoff game with Lexington.
He found someone. Boy, did he find someone.
Junior running back Brandon Lewis ran for 286 yards on 24 carries, and scored all three of his team’s touchdowns, as the ninth-ranked Wildcats shut out the Golden Bears 20-0 to advance to the second round of the AHSAA Class 2A post-season.
Lewis scored on a 50-yard touchdown early in the second quarter, followed by a 7-yard scoring run later in the half.
He then ran 30 yards for his final touchdown just 43 seconds into the second half.
It was Lewis’ best individual game by far, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
“Brandon’s normally an eight-carry-a-night guy, and he had to double that tonight to carry Khyree’s load,” Busby said.
Lewis is not known for being an explosive runner, but it helps when the big guys up front give a guy some room to maneuver.
“The offensive line stood up tonight and played at the level that they played at earlier in the year,” Busby said. “Brandon’s not a big bruiser. Hets in there behind those big linemen and squirts out of there, and he’s usually off to the races.”
Gabe Martinez led the Fultondale defense with 13 tackles. Antwan McCary and Derrick Pollard added nine each on a solid night for the Wildcat “D.”
“Lord, our defense played well to hold a team like that to no points,” Busby said. “Running the option the way Lexington does, you have to play assignment football, and I don’t think we broke an assignment all night. Their top receiver [Daniel Grisham] averages 100 yards a night, and I don’t think he had a catch.”
Kris Lewis, who was nursing a high-ankle sprain, was 4-for-9 passing for 48 yards; Dijon Temple had two receptions for 32 yards.
The Bears actually outgained Fultondale, 402 yards to 350, but they also turned the ball over four times on an interception and three fumbles.
The win puts the Wildcats (10-1) on the road next week against second-ranked Lanett, which routed Gaston 66-34. It’s a team Fultondale beat last year on a blocked extra point.
“They have great tradition, they’re very athletic, and they are very hard to beat at home,” Busby said. “But what this team has done this year to win 10 games after losing ArDarius Stewart — nobody in our state or even our own city thought we would do that.”
Does that include you, Richie Busby?
“I didn’t. To be honest, I didn’t. I knew we had good players coming back, but losing who we lost from last year? Nope.”