November 15, 2009 12:23:00 AM
Danny P Smith -
REFORM, Ala. -- Pickens County High School''s Jematric Curry was looking to make a play.
When that didn''t come as the quarterback early against Goshen High in Friday''s second round game of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 2A playoffs, he turned to the other side of the football.
Curry''s second-quarter interception of running back Reginald Foster on a halfback pass attempt sparked the Tornadoes.
Once Pickens County got rolling, it recorded a 48-14 victory against the Eagles.
Curry, who also goes by the name of Deion, struggled at quarterback in the first quarter, completing 2 of 5 passes for 1 yard.
After the quarter ended scoreless, Curry gave the Tornadoes their first big break by intercepting Foster at the Goshen 30-yard line.
"He''s been doing that his whole career, and he''s a great defensive player," Pickens County coach Scott Merchant said of Curry. "We didn''t throw the ball like we wanted to tonight, but he made some plays defensively and offensively, so we''re proud of him."
Three plays later, running back James Adams scored on a 26-yard run with 11 minutes, 1 second remaining in the second quarter to spark the Tornadoes.
"When we first started out, our offense was really slow and couldn''t get it started like we wanted to, but, as always, the defense has been the strong part of our team and we held together," Curry said. "When that big pick came, everything just fell into place. We finally started clicking on offense."
Curry''s interception helped other Pickens County players make plays.
After the Eagles went three-and-out on their next series, Travis Bailey partially blocked a punt to give Pickens County the football at the Goshen 15.
It only took Dominique Jones two carries to find the end zone from 7 yards out with nine minutes left before halftime.
Merchant, who was defensive coordinator to Patrick Plott last season, was especially proud the defense and special teams were instrumental in maintaining field position for the Tornadoes.
Pickens County drove down to the 1-yard line, but without a timeout, the game clock ran out before another play could be run.
Even though the Tornadoes led 14-0 at halftime, the failure to get additional points gave Merchant a teaching point in the locker room.
"I talked about clock management, missed opportunities, and how we need to take that, use it, and learn from it," Merchant said. "We made several mistakes in our two-minute offense. We didn''t get out of bounds and we didn''t kill the clock when we missed a signal.
"We don''t need to make mistakes to give the other team momentum. We need to put it into our tool box, so to speak, and apply it the next time we need to run a two-minute offense."
It didn''t take Pickens County long to open that "tool box" in the second half as it drove 58 yards on eight plays, all on the ground. Adams got his second touchdown with a 15-yard run at the 7:27 mark of the third quarter.
The Tornadoes turned up the defense, as Mark Hall intercepted quarterback Jerome Lawrence and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown. Tim Simpson intercepted Lawrence''s next attempt to set up Jones'' 5-yard score within a one-minute span that helped Pickens County take a 35-0 lead.
Pickens County senior defensive end Mark Sterling was glad to see the team "overcome" after experiencing a little adversity early in the game.
"We came back from making mistakes to taking advantage of their mistakes," Sterling said.
Merchant said it was just a matter of the defense adjusting to what the Eagles were doing and getting into the passing lanes. He credited Goshen (8-4) for having "excellent football players" and said his unit initially "misjudged some of their speed."
Goshen coach Bart Snyder was proud of what his squad accomplished this season.
"Coming into this season, the guys didn''t even know who their coach was going to be," Snyder said. "We put a staff together and this group fell in line with us. We started slowly working each week, taking the time with a great bunch of kids, and we (had good) results."
The Tornadoes (11-1) will advance to the third round to face three-time defending state champion Leroy High School on Friday.
Curry, who was 4 of 10 passing for 53 yards, knows he must step up and lead the offense if the Tornadoes will move on.
"I have to keep my composure as well as try to help the team keep its composure," Curry said.