PINSON — By the time the night was over, Pinson Valley didn’t want to see any more Moore.
Clay-Chalkville quarterback Hayden Moore had a hand in all seven of his team’s touchdowns, as the No. 2 (6A) Cougars downed the Indians 48-31 on Friday.
With his University of Cincinnati head coach Tommy Tuberville, Moore’s college coach-to-be watching from the sidelines, the 6-foot-3 field general commanded march after march into Indian territory. Clay-Chalkville amassed a 34-3 lead with nine minutes to go in the first half, and it looked for all the world like Pinson was about to fall victim to a massacre.
That wasn’t the case, as the Indians dug in their heels for key defensive stops in the second half, and pulled as close as 10 points in the late going.
Clay struck early, as Moore connected with pint-sized running back Terelle Moore on the second play after the opening kickoff on a 60-yard scoring pass.
Then with seven minutes left in the first quarter, Moore found a favorite target in wide receiver Brian Clark — who played taller than the 6-foot-1 height listed on the Cougar roster. Clark made a leaping catch over his defender for a 25-yard catch in the back of the end zone.
After a Pinson field goal, Moore struck again, this time with some trickery. He pulled off a fake punt and sprinted 49 yards for a touchdown with 2:33 left in the period.
The Cougars were in business again moments later after Indians running back Nick Gibson fumbled the ball away on his 37-yard line. Three snaps later Moore put up his third touchdown pass, this one to Eric Blockum from 35 yards out.
Starting the second quarter, Moore engineered a drive that started on his own 17. A couple of long tosses to Clark got Clay within striking distance quickly, and Moore himself did the honors with a 15-yard run.
Pinson finally got its first touchdown two minutes later, when quarterback Brooks Garrett hit Desmond Williams for a score from the 19. On their next drive, Garrett hit Gibson for a 61-yard touchdown strike, and suddenly what looked to be a huge rout was becoming much more respectable with a 34-16 Cougar lead at halftime.
The Indians took advantage of good field position to start the second half, thanks to a Luray Smith runback to the midfield stripe. Garrett took Pinson down to the Clay 6, where he tossed to Williams for the duo’s second touchdown of the night, and the scored stood at 34-23 with 7:46 to play in the third quarter.
The Cougars marched again, but Pinson came up with a big defensive stop when running back Sidney Battle was tackled for a 7-yard loss on fourth down and one at the Indians 21.
Early in the fourth quarter, Moore found himself in the shadow of his own goalposts, as a Garrett punt was touched dead inside the Cougar 1-yard line. But eight plays later, Moore broke free of three different tackles and ran 60 yards for another touchdown.
Pinson came right back and scored in one minute’s time with another pass from Garrett to Gibson, this one for 14 yards. But Moore followed by leading the last drive of the night with a touchdown pass to Clark from 22 yards, and the Cougars sealed the win when LaDarius Harris intercepted a Garrett pass on the first play after the following kickoff.
Moore finished with 193 yards rushing on 11 carries; he was over the 200-yard mark before a 10-yard loss recovering a high snap late. Through the air, Moore was 9-of-14 for 201 yards.
Gibson wasn’t as effective on the ground, for the Indians gaining only 41 yards on 16 carries, but had a good night in receiving with six catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns.
Pinson head coach Matt Glover told his troops the well-worn aphorism that “there are no moral victories.” Having said that, some losses are less distasteful than others, especially considering the second-half effort against the second-ranked team in the state’s biggest classification.
“We started out playing about as bad as we could play, but they didn’t give up. I always tell them to keep on fighting, and they did,” Glover said. “I’m pleased with their effort and attitude.”
Clay-Chalkville (5-0) returns to regional play by hosting Grissom next week. The Indians face another stiff test next week, as they make the short trip to regional rival Center Point — right on the heels of the Eagles upsetting McAdory, the top-ranked team in Class 5A, by a 22-14 score in overtime. That game is The North Jefferson News Big Game for next week.