By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
McCALLA — Pinson Valley has seen quite enough of quarterbacks named Moore for one season.
After having to deal with Clay-Chalkville's Hayden Moore and his six touchdowns midway through the regular season, it was McAdory passer Kyran Moore who brought the Indians' season to an end Friday night, as the 10th-ranked Jackets won 34-17 in their AHSAA Class 5A second-round playoff contest.
Moore took down Pinson with big plays – a 25-yard touchdown pass to DeKorian Vanderbilt, a a 76-yard bomb to Justin Mabry (both in the second quarter), and then a 59-yard run of his own early in the third quarter.
Those plays did a lot to swing momentum away that the Tribe built early, thanks to scores on their first two drives. Pinson got on the board first after taking the opening kickoff at their own 39; the drive stalled out at the Yellow Jackets 21, but freshman place kicker Saul Rios – the youngster who won the first-round game in overtime over Hartselle last week – booted the longest field goal of his young career. The 39-yard field goal put alley up 3-0 with 8:04 in the first quarter.
Pinson held McAdory on the home team's first possession, despite a 46-yard throw from Moore to Clinton Powell, but the punt was downed at the Indians 1-yard line.
From that point, Pinson staged a marathon 19-play drive that was largely the work of running back Nick Gibson, mostly on the ground but with one pass out of the wildcat formation from Gibson to Micheal Evans.
Knowing that Gibson – who crossed the 2,000-yard season rushing mark last week – would draw lots of attention from the McAdory defense, Indians coach Matt Glover had quarterback Brooks Garrett take several carries of his own. The strategy worked, as Garrett gained two first downs on the long drive. Gibson finished it off with a 2-yard run from a direct snap to put Pinson up 10-0 with 9:18 left in the first half.
“We knew they would be keying on Nick, so we knew we would have to run Brooks. He did a good job for us, though he go a little banged up there at the end,” Glover said.
That's when McAdory finally kicked into gear, as Moore struck with the big scoring passes to Vanderbilt and Mabry; the extra-point kick on the second touchdown was blocked. But the big momentum swing came with 32 seconds left before intermission, as a Garrett punt was blocked at his own 40-yard line, and recovered and run back by Shaquil Terry for a touchdown.
McAdory (10-2) needed three plays and less than two minutes after the break to strike again, as Moore was scrambling to find a receiver. When he couldn't, he took matters into his own hands, squirting through an opening for 59 yards and a score.
The Indians responded on their first possession of the half, as Glover changed his game plan to take to the air more. A 31-yard pass from Garrett to Spencer Underwood set up another Gibson touchdown, this one coming when he launched over his offensive line from the 1-yard line.
Pinson held the Jackets on their next possession, and took over on their own 15 late in the third quarter down by 10 points. But on the first play of the fourth quarter, Garrett threw an interception to Terry, who picked off the pass at his own 30.
From that point, the Jackets went on a march that not only resulted in a touchdown – a 2-yard run by Mabry – but was so long it could be timed with a sundial. The drive ran almost 10 full minutes off the clock, leaving Pinson with only 2:21 to perform the impossible.
That effort ended 58 seconds later when Garrett was picked off again, this time by linebacker Thaddeus Houser.
Moore was 6-for-7 in passing for 199 yards, and ran nine times for 102 yards. Glover had plotted to keep the Jackets' quarterback in check, but it was not to be.
“We knew that controlling [Moore] would be the key to the game, but we didn't do a good job controlling him, so that's what it is,” Glover said.
“We thought we were going to be really, really down this year because of all the seniors we lost, but we had a bunch of guys step up this season. They did everything we asked them to. They were simply a better team than us,” the coach added.
Gibson finished the night with 82 yards on 35 carries; he was hampered early on by a muddy field dampened by Friday afternoon's rain showers. Garrett was 8-for-20 with two interceptions for 106 yards.
The Indians finish their season with a 7-5 record. McAdory travels to unbeaten Southside-Gadsden for the quarterfinal playoff round next week.
Pinson Valley: FG Saul Rios 39, 8:04
Pinson Valley: Nick Gibson 2 run (Rios kick), 9:18
McAdory: DeKorian Vanderbilt 25 pas from Kyran Moore (Ivan Rodriguez kick), 6:25
McAdory: Justin Mabry 78 pass from Moore (kick blocked), 1:45
McAdory: Shaquil Terry, 40 blocked punt return (Rodriguez kick), 0:32
McAdory: Moore 59 run (Rodriguez kick), 10:18
Pinson Valley: Gibson 1 run (Rios kick), 5:05
McAdory: Mabry1 run (Rodriguez kick), 2:21