Verbena offense explodes after slow start

Published 1:45 am Saturday, September 5, 2015

Hand off: Hakeem Underwood (right) ran for two touchdowns on Friday. (Photo by Stephen Dawkins)

Hand off: Hakeem Underwood (right) ran for two touchdowns on Friday. (Photo by Stephen Dawkins)

A 100-yard interception return for a touchdown was a fitting end to Verbena’s 61-26 win over Autaugaville on Friday.

After a sloppy first quarter in which the teams combined for just one first down on the first nine possessions, the Red Devils and Eagles (2-1) lit up the scoreboard by scoring on six out of seven possessions at one point, and the offensive onslaught didn’t slow up much in the second half.

Verbena (2-0) won its first region game of the season despite losing fumbles on its first two possessions.

Coach Mike Harris said the team started the game with lethargic play, making too many mistakes.

“They’ve got a lot of talent; they can score on you,” Harris said. “We tell our guys all the time, just stay focused and if we get in a hole, just don’t give up and good things will happen.”

Plenty of good things happened for VHS on Friday.

The Red Devils got on the scoreboard by riding running back Hakeem Underwood, who carried on four plays in a five-play drive to make the score 7-6, after Anthony Miller’s point-after, with 8:30 remaining in the second quarter.

Autaugaville returned the ensuring kickoff for a touchdown, but the Devils took the lead for good, 14-12, on a 69-yard pass from Tristan Short to Raymond Bulger.

Short took advantage of the first of Hunter Reeves’ two interceptions and ran it in from 10 yards out, and the first-half scoring was concluded by Dorrian Parker’s 70-yard, tackle-breaking run down the visitors’ sideline.

In the second half, with the game well in hand, Verbena scored on a 21-yard pass from Short to Juwan Tyus, an 85-yard run by Underwood on a fourth-and-1, a 30-yard pass from Short to Miller, a 57-yard run by Parker and the interception return by Bulger.