Thorsby outlasts Isabella in high-scoring classic

Published 9:03 am Saturday, September 9, 2023

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By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

Thorsby High School took a high-scoring, electric game over Isabella High School 50-43 on Sept. 8 at home. The Rebels treated their home crowd to the first win over the Mustangs since 2018, and were led by quarterback Grayson McManus’ three rushing touchdowns.

Thorsby took the lead just before halftime at 21-20, and the message at halftime was clear from head coach Daryl Davis.

“We felt good if we just did not turn the ball over,” Davis said. “We challenged them at halftime that we had them right where we wanted them, and we knew what the recipe was and what we had to do, and our guys went out there and did it.”

Thorsby took their first drive after halftime for points on an 11-yard touchdown run by McManus. A stop by the Rebels on a fake punt by Isabella set them up perfectly for Coden Cummings first rushing score of the game from 11 yards out to give the Rebels their largest lead at 36-21.

However, the Mustangs fought back and earned a safety and quickly followed that up with a 17-yard touchdown run by quarterback Eli Kendrick to cut the advantage to 36-30 after three quarters.

The Mustangs cut the Thorsby lead in the second half to one possession on three separate occasions, but every time the Rebels’ offense responded with a touchdown of their own. Cummings had a 62-yard touchdown run and Nate Thomas a one-yard score in the fourth quarter to put the game away.

“Our defensive coordinator tells them all the time that there is going to be good and bad,” Davis said. “Some things did not go our way, but they came back out and responded (every time). We are proud of them.”

After the Mustangs’ Kendrick put seven points on the board first for Isabella, the Rebels first drive featured a deep pass play from McManus to Cummings that set up Thorsby inside the Isabella red zone. McManus punched in the short one-yard touchdown run and the two-point conversion to put Thorsby ahead 8-7 midway through the first quarter.

Dawson Edwards hauled in a long pass on the next Mustang drive, and Kendrick finished the drive himself over the top of the pile to give the lead back to Isabella, 14-8.

The lead lasted just a few seconds as Thomas pounced on the short kickoff and bolted down the Thorsby sideline for a touchdown. Cummings’ two-point conversion run put the Rebels back ahead 16-14.

Kendrick continued his dominating first half with a huge run that aided the Mustangs next drive. The senior found Lee for the duo’s second touchdown connection of the night with under a minute left in the quarter to put Isabella up 21-16.

Defense made its appearance in the second quarter as Isabella’s Kaden Tuttle pulled down two interceptions to halt two Thorsby possessions. The Thorsby defense got a turnover of their own, recovering a fumble inside their own 10-yard line that kept points off the board.

McManus and the offense took the turnover and turned it into points as he got his second rushing touchdown of the half, this one from eight yards out to give Thorsby a 21-20 lead at halftime.

“We played great tonight, and that is a good (Isabella) football team over there,” Davis said.

The win was a rivalry, county and AHSAA Class 2A Region 4 one for Thorsby (2-1) who hosts Woodland High School on Sept. 15 for homecoming. Isabella (1-1) hosts Central of Coosa County High School for their homecoming on the same day.