Jarvis Dancy scored three times and P.J. McDonald threw a pair of touchdown passes as Bessemer Academy opened the AISA AAA playoffs with a convincing 34-14 win over Lee-Scott Academy.
The Rebels (8-2), the Region II, No. 1 seed, jumped out to a 27-0 lead in the first quarter, then coasted home the rest of the way over Lee-Scott (2-7).
McDonald, who completed 8 of 10 passes for 124 yards, didn’t play after the first quarter.
“I didn’t mind,” McDonald said. “I kind of enjoyed standing over there and cheering on my teammates.”
Bessemer Academy scored twice in 41 seconds to take a 14-0 lead, then added two more scores in 48 seconds for the four-touchdown advantage.
“It was a nice win,” said Bessemer Academy coach Josh Wright. “I know most of our ones didn’t play after the first quarter. The biggest thing from here on out is to be healthy. And, we were able to get a lot of young guys some playoff experience.”
The Rebels already suffered a setback earlier in the week when leading receiver Dylan Lee, who has 67 catches for 866 yards and eight touchdowns, had a season-ending injury in practice Monday with a couple of broken ribs and an injured spleen.
“It’s been a tough week for us,” Wright said. “Dylan was one of our leaders.”
Dancy scored on a 31-yard run with 9:51 left in the first quarter, then 41 seconds later, caught a 39-yard touchdown pass from McDonald.
Dancy added a 3-yard touchdown run with 2:54 left in the quarter, and 48 seconds later, McDonald threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Will Ferrell.
The fourth touchdown was set up when Jacob Barry’s kickoff hit a Warriors' player and bounced right back to him.
“I couldn’t do that again if I tried,” said Barry, who also had another fumble recovery. “I’m been practicing a watermelon kick, kind of a toe kick. It just bounced right back to me. I didn’t know what to do with it.”
After the 27-0 first quarter, the Bessemer Academy offense was non-existent the rest of the way.
The Rebels ran only seven plays for 11 yards in the second quarter, five plays for 37 yards in the third quarter and nine plays for 29 yards in the fourth quarter.
“We had some young guys play well and you saw we also had some bumps,” Wright said. “No. 1, you don’t want any turnovers and also you don’t want to be real sloppy. We were a little sloppy the rest of the way.”
Lee-Scott, the Region I, No. 4 seed, also lost to the Rebels 43-6 during the regular season.
Bessemer Academy, the defending state champions, are making their 22nd playoff appearance in the last 23 years,
It was their 10th straight win over the Warriors and 23rd in the last 24 meetings. Lee-Scott’s only win since starting the series 3-0 was 33-7 in 2012.
Bessemer Academy whipped the Warriors 43-6 on Oct. 6 when they rolled up 499 yards of total offense, including 251 yards on the ground where it averaged 13.9 yards a carry. Defensively, the Rebels had 16 tackles for loss.
Led by Collin Timmons (79 tackles, 12 TFL), Brandon Summerlin (68 tackles, 10 TFL) and Jacob Barry (55 tackles, 14 TFL), the Rebels finished the regular season with 74 tackles for loss, including 21 sacks and 15 turnovers.
They added four more turnovers Thursday and seven more tackles for loss.
Star of the game: Dancy only played the first quarter. He finished with one catch for 39 yards and a touchdown and two carries for 34 yards and a pair of touchdowns. All three of his touches ended in scores.
Play of the Game: Barry’s kickoff was one for the ages. The line drive hit a Lee-Scott defender and bounced right back to the kicker, one of three Warriors turnovers in the first quarter.
Key sequence: Bessemer Academy took advantage of three turnovers and scored the first four times it had the ball for the quick 27-0 advantage.
Stat sheet: Ferrell had three catches for 67 yards and a touchdown and returned the second-half kickoff 73 yards for a touchdown…T.J. Tate, who had four carries for eight yards, had a 59-yard touchdown called back on a holding penalty…Alkwon Manning had a fumble recovery and Summerlin an interception…Bessemer Academy had 217 total yards in the first half and finished with 283 total yards…Lee-Scott didn’t have a first down in the first quarter…Warriors quarterback Tate McKelvey, who rushed for 52 yards on 14 carries, added touchdown runs of 4 and 24 yards in the fourth quarter…Andrew Hahn led Lee-Scott with 72 yards on 11 carries while Jonathan Meyers added 60 yards on 16 attempts…After rushing for 36 yards on 16 carries in the first half, the Warriors had 34 carries for 169 yards in the second half.
By The Numbers: 131, Bessemer Academy coach Josh Wright, the son of legendary AISA coach Lynn Wright with 209 career wins, is 131-36 since 2008, including 25-7 in the playoffs with four championships; 8, the Rebels have won eight state championships and 14 Region titles since 2001; 11, the Rebels had 11 straight losing seasons, including three winless years, from 1987-97; 3, Lee-Scott coach Buster Daniels is the third Lee-Scott coach in the last three years; 41, the Warriors defense allowed at least 41 points in five games, including more than 50 points twice; 1, McDonald has thrown only one interception this season (136-89) while throwing for 1,814 yards and 26 touchdowns and also rushing for 322 yards on 33 carries and four touchdowns; 900, Dancy (62-900) didn’t get a chance to go over the 1,000-yard rushing mark with only two carries for 34 yards against the Warriors; 27, Lee (29-893, 14 TDs), Ferrell (25-555, 8 TDs) and Samad Muhammad (12-220, 5 TDs) have combined for 27 touchdown receptions.
Did You Know: Current Thompson coach Mark Freeman is a Bessemer Academy grad. He started his coaching career with the Rebels in 1998 with the school on an 11-year losing streak. He was 101-21 with four state championships and two other title game appearances until he left in 2008 for the quarterbacks coaching job at Minor. From 2001-07, his Rebels teams were 40-1 in Region play and 17-3 in the playoffs. He was the coach in the All-Star game for seven straight seasons from 2001-07. He also coached baseball (116-70, 2 Final Fours) boys basketball (7 playoff appearances, 1 state championship), girls basketball (3 playoffs) and powerlifting (3 state championships).
Coachspeak: “It’s just one of those deals where you ask your kids to be mature and they are. We wanted to come out of this game healthy. We were able to rest some people after the first quarter. It got a little sloppy after the first quarter, but I thought our defense played pretty well all night.”—Wright
“We had great play-calling and we went out there and executed. We really stepped up after the way we played last week. The offensive line executed and did its job and the wide receivers did a great job. I thought we played pretty well.” – McDonald
“I thought we played good in spurts. When you get a big lead like that, you lose a little intensity because everybody kind of feels like the game is already over.” – Barry
Next week: Bessemer Academy will host the winner between Region I No. 2 Pike Liberal Arts and Region II No. 3 Monroe Academy next week in the semifinals. The Rebels beat Monroe Academy 46-9 the second week of the regular season.
The championship will be the following week, Nov. 20, as part of a championship tripleheader at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery.