Madison, AL – In a thrilling comeback, the Hoover Buccaneers knocked off the Region 4 champion James Clemens Jets with a score of 42-16 in the first round of the AHSAA Class 7A postseason. The 5-6 Bucs trailed at halftime by a score of 16-7, but they turned the tables in the second half with a whopping 35 unanswered points.
The win marked the Bucs’ 24th consecutive first round playoff victory.
The first half was dominated by James Clemens as the Jets raced to a 16-7 lead. Ty Doughty ran for two touchdowns, one for 34 yards and another for 3, while Brycen Dowdell contributed by blocking a Bucs punt out the back of the end zone for a safety. The Bucs only managed to score once in the first half after Bradley Shaw recovered a fumble at the Jets’ 2-yard line and plunged in for a short touchdown run.
However, the second half saw a complete reversal of fortunes as the Bucs went on the offensive. Kamal Amerson sailed through the Jets’ defense on the first play of the second half, running for 17 yards and bulldozing over several defenders. His 1-yard touchdown run capped a 58-yard drive and signaled the start of the Bucs’ comeback.
The Bucs then drove 76 yards to take the lead, thanks to a 50-yard run from Amerson that moved them deep into Jets territory. Sophomore quarterback Jonah Winston, who was making his second start, capped off the drive with a 16-yard touchdown run. This put the Bucs ahead at 21-16 with just over three minutes left in the third quarter.
The Jets mishandled the ensuing kickoff, allowing Hoover’s Jeremiah Pritchett to recover the ball on the Jets’ 37-yard line. Two plays later, Winston threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to ArMari Towns, expanding the visitor’s advantage to 28-16.
Winston, the younger brother of Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, continued to shine connecting with Fred Dunson for a 9-yard touchdown pass with under eight minutes left in the contest. Dunson then ran for a 28-yard touchdown three minutes later, set up by an interception from Hoover cornerback Donell Williams, to put the game on ice at 42-16.
Amerson finished the game with 107 yards on 10 carries, while Winston contributed 97 yards rushing and 50 yards passing.
James Clemens’ season comes to a close at 7-4 while Hoover sails into the Class 7A quarterfinals. The Bucs will travel to Hewitt-Trussville to take on the 9th ranked Huskies. Head coach Wade Waldrop’s Buccaneers will look to avenge their 28-7 loss to Hewitt during the regular season.