AUBURN, AL -- Clay-Chalkville (15-0) closed out a perfect season Friday night with a hard-fought 36-31 win over Saraland (13-2) in the final game of the 2014 Super 7 State Football Championships at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Coach Jerry Hood’s Cougars from Jefferson County needed every ounce of strength to pull the victory out in the fourth quarter of the Class 6A championship game. Saraland had 24 more offensive plays than Clay-Chalkville, nine more first downs and totaled 522 yards.
Coach Jeff Kelly’s Spartans also took the lead with 4:52 remaining in the third quarter, relinquished it briefly with 5:46 to play but regained the lead again with 3:19 to play.
The Cougars never panicked, said Hood. Trailing 31-30 with time running out, 6A championship game MVP Ty Pigrome led Clay-Chalkville on a four-play, 69-yard drive running the final 47 yards for what turned out to be the game-winning score with 2:10 to play.
And then the Clay defense, scrambling most of the night to try and slow down the high-powered offense directed by Saraland senior quarterback Chris Weaver, came up with just enough plays to stop the Spartans one last time taking over on downs with 20 seconds remaining at the Cougar’ 29-yard line.
Pigrome had 14 carries for 101 yards and three touchdowns – scoring twice in the second quarter on runs of 1 and 3 yards to give Clay-Chalkville a 16-7 lead at halftime. He also was 15-of-20 passing for 255 yards and two scores – both coming at critical times in the second half.
Weave, who was 16-of-28 passing for 232 yards and one TD, sparked a third-quarter comeback that put the Spartans ahead 24-16 with 4:11 left in the third period.
Pigrome then did what he has done all season. He got his team into the end zone with an 18-yard pass to Nico Collins just under two minutes later to cut Saraland’s lead to 24-22. He then connected with T.J. Simmons on a 79-yard pass play for a TD and got the 2-point conversion as the Cougars went ahead 30-24.
Weaver took Saraland down the field quickly as well with Tyler Sims running 23 yards for the touchdown with 3:19 to tie the game and freshman back-up place-kicker Justin Harper kickd the go-ahead extra point to put the Spartans ahead 31-30 – setting up Pigrome’s final heroics.
Clay finished with 155 yards rushing, 255 passing and 410 total yards. Saraland had 290 rushing, 232 passing and 522 total yards. Art Smith added 48 yards rushing on 13 carries for the Cougars. Simmons had five catches for 165 yards and Collins five for 65. Patrick Millican also booted a 35-yard field goal. Pigrome finished the season accounting for 24 rushing touchdowns and passing for 36 – a total of 60 TDs on the year.
Velus Jones had five catches for 77 yards and one TD for Saraland, a 52-yard strike one play after the Spartans recovered an onside kick to start the second half. Sean Long rushed for 154 yards on 18 carries, Sims had 76 on eight runs and Weaver finished with 62 on 18 carries.
Defensively Jalen Dawson had nine solo tackles, Torrence Willis had seven solos and three assists and Jarrod Reedus had five tackles and seven assists. Skylar Mosley’s nine tackles pace Saraland.
The state title was the first for the Cougars since 1999 – when the Clay won the 6A state championship in the Super 6 at Legion Field. Saraland was playing in its first state championship game.