PREP FOOTBALL: Meek falls to Berry on the road, 33-15

Sammy Confer for The Cullman Tribune

BERRY – Meek (Class 1A, Region 6) traveled to Fayette County to take on Berry (Class 1A, Region 6) in a huge region game for the Tigers as they looked to keep their playoff hopes alive. Berry, though, had other plans as the Tigers wound up falling to the Wildcats, 33-15.

Meek got a pair of first downs on its first drive of the game on a Payton Key 12-yard pass to Stuart Waldrep and on a Gabe Jones 12-yard run, but the offense stalled after that, as Jones got stopped for no gain on a fourth-and-2 from the 28, forcing the Tigers to turn the ball over on downs. The defense forced the Wildcats to punt on their first possession, and they capitalized on that opportunity as Key found Bryson Hudson over the middle for a 51-yard touchdown pass with 5:19 remaining in the opening quarter to put the Tigers on the scoreboard first.

Berry converted on a fourth-down play on a 23-yard pass to keep the drive alive, but the Wildcats didn’t make it 2-2 as Kevin Chino broke up a pass on fourth down at the 6-yard line to force the Wildcats to turn the ball over on downs.  Meek was forced to punt on its next possession, and Berry found the end zone on a 20-yard touchdown to make it a 7-6 game after the missed PAT with 7:09 remaining in the first half. The Tigers punted again, but they forced another Berry punt of their own, thanks to a big sack by Jones on second down. On Meek’s third straight punt, it was blocked, and taken 35 yards for the score to put the Wildcats up, 14-7, with four minutes remaining in the half.

The Tigers looked to tie the game to end the half; thanks to Key and Jones on the ground, they moved the ball down the field. They converted a big fourth down as Payton Key found Bryant Key for a 10-yard gain, putting them at the 34-yard line. But the offense stalled, turning the ball over on downs to end the half. The Tigers went into the locker room trailing 14-7.

The running game for Berry wore down the Meek defense to start the second half and the Wildcats wound up finding the end zone on a 2-yard touchdown run to stretch their lead to 21-7 with 8:17 remaining in the third quarter. On Meek’s first possession of the half, Waldrep started it off with a 21-yard run as the Tigers looked to finally get some offense going, but a few plays later, Waldrep’s pass got picked off by the Wildcats. Things went from bad to worse for them when Berry scored on a 47-yard run on a fourth-and-1 to make it 27-7 with 1:07 remaining in the quarter.

Both defenses forced punts on the next possessions. Meek found the end zone behind the arm and legs of Waldrep when he found a hole and gained 27 yards. He later found Hudson for 14 yards and on the next play, connected with Caleb Aaron for a 16-yard score to make it a 27-15 game with 8:42 remaining as the Tigers looked to make a comeback late. The Wildcats milked more than six minutes off the clock, sealing the 33-15 win with a 3-yard touchdown run.

Payton Key finished the game going 7 of 11 for 106 yards and a touchdown. He had to leave at the half due to a finger injury and didn’t return. Waldrep completed three passes for 25 yards and a score. He added 45 more on the ground. Jones rushed for just 55 yards on 12 carries. Bradley Vickery and Jones each added sacks for the defense. Meek falls to 1-4 overall and 0-3 in the region. The Tigers look to get things back on track next week at home against Sumiton Christian.

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