PREP FOOTBALL: Arab closes regular season with 27-8 win over Boaz

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Arab’s Wes Johnson (8) sheds a tackle during the Knights’ 27-8 victory over Boaz Friday night. (Martha Needham/The Cullman Tribune)

ARAB, Ala.- The Arab Knights were looking to build some much needed-momentum going into the playoffs next week when they hosted Boaz in its regular season finale Friday night. Arab leaned on its defense and they got big-time performances from Aidan Cox and Mathew Turnage as the Knights defeated the Pirates 27-8.

Both defenses forced punts on their opening possessions and on Boaz’s second series, Arab’s defense got a huge stop on fourth down, giving the Knights the ball in excellent field position at the 40-yard line. Mathew Turnage got 13 yards and a first down to start the Knights’ next possession and Aidan Cox completed both of his passes for 21 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown strike to Dakota NeSmith, to give Arab a 7-0 lead. 

After forcing another Boaz punt, Arab started its next possession at the 24-yard line and got off to another quick start as Turnage gained 29 yards. Cox later found John Brady Bowman for 29 more yards. A holding penalty on fourth down backed the Knights up to the 20-yard line, but that didn’t seem to faze Cox one bit as he found NeSmith for a 20-yard score to push the lead to 14-0 with 9:36 remaining in the first half.

Boaz used a mixture of the run and pass to get into the end zone on a five-yard run that made it a 14-8 game. The Knights looked to add another score before the half, but after picking up a pair of first downs, a bad snap stalled the drive and they were forced to punt, keeping the score at 14-8 at the half.

Arab started out hot on offense to kick off the second half and Turnage got the bulk of the touches, picking up some huge yards, including an 18-yard run late in the drive. Cox also found Wes Johnson for a 20-yard gain as well before Cox finished the drive with a 1-yard scoring run to make it 20-8. After the defense forced another Boaz punt, the Knights used the ground game to wear down the Pirate defense and Cox went two for two with 35 yards during the drive, including a 28-yard screen pass to Turnage for a touchdown score, and Arab stretched its lead to 27-8. 

The fourth quarter saw Arab run the ball and burn off a lot of clock. Johnathan Pugh recovered a Boaz fumble late that helped seal the 27-8 win for the Knights.

Cox went 11 of 14 for 147 yards and three touchdowns and a rushing touchdown as well. Turnage added 162 yards on 28 carries and added a 28-yard touchdown reception in the win. NeSmith added a pair of catches for 35 yards and a pair of scores. Johnson finished with six receptions for 69 yards and Pugh recovered a fumble on defense for Arab.

Arab (5-5) will travel to take on Pinson Valley next week in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs.

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