North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

November 17, 2012

Analysis: Stewart is a true game-changer for Fultondale

By Erik Harris
North Jefferson News

FULTONDALE — It’s long been said that big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games.

Well, after Fultondale quarterback ArDarius Stewart racked up an eye-popping 350 yards rushing and seven touchdowns while leading the Wildcats to a 49-28 victory over the second-ranked Fyffe Red Devils, it’s probably safe to say that Stewart is a game-changer.

“I’m not tired,” said Stewart. “I can go four more quarters if I need to.”

The Alabama commitment simply dominated the opposition for four quarters and propelled Fultondale into the third round of the state playoffs.

“The longer the season goes, the better we are going to get so whoever we’ve got next, they’re in trouble,” said Stewart.

That would be top-ranked Tanner, who travels to Fultondale next week.

Fyffe entered the second-round clash with a squeaky clean 11-0 record, accomplished with a powerful rushing game and a salty defense that averaged less than 14 points allowed per contest. Running backs Randy Blackwell and Trenton Thrash both have had 1,000-yard seasons, and have been the backbone of the Devil offense. And neither disappointed, with Blackwell scoring three times and gaining 166 yards.

The Wildcats did exactly what you want to do to a power-running team — jump out to a big lead early. By the end of the first quarter, Stewart had found paydirt three times and Fultondale was out to a commanding 20-0 lead.

Though the Devils showed no quit, their wing-T offense was not designed to mount large comebacks — especially when the opposition has a lightning rod like Stewart who can score from anywhere on the field.

Just when Fyffe had fought their way back into the game early in the third quarter, Stewart commandeered an eight-play, 66-yard drive to widen the gap back out to 14 points. He capped the drive off with a 25-yard dash off left side. All but one of Stewarts electrifying scores came off left tackle.

The Devils non-existent passing game would make a late comeback virtually impossible. Fyffe attempted only three passes in the game, and one of them was intercepted by Khyree Robinson.

The rattled Devils offense converted only one of five third-down conversions while the Wildcats went 4-for-7 on third downs and converted two of their three fourth-down attempts.

Fyffe moved the chains 15 times on the night, but their lack of big-play offense, followed by their inability to contain Stewart, made it a long bus ride home for the Devils.