MIDDLE SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Good Hope downs West Point 26-20 to win County Championship

The Good Hope Raiders defeated West Point 26-20 Thursday night to win this year’s Cullman County Middle School Championship. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

WEST POINT, Ala. – This year’s Cullman County Middle School Football Championship Game was hosted at West Point High School Thursday night, but it was the Good Hope Raiders that returned home with the county title. The Raiders led the Warriors 26-12 going into the fourth quarter and they withstood a late comeback effort from West Point to hold and win the game 26-20.

West Point got the ball first to start off the game and they didn’t waste any time as Titan Thornton ripped off a 27-yard run on the first run, then two plays later, JJ Mink recovered a loose ball and picked up 12 yards. Big runs by Thornton and Caleb Dauksza quickly had the Warriors at the seven, but Good Hope’s defense stood tall and forced a turnover on downs. On just the second play, though, a Raider fumble was recovered by Samuel Stockman at the seven-yard line. A holding penalty pushed West Point back to the 17, but a 16-yard run by Thornton put them at the one and Mink scored on the next play to give them a 6-0 lead with two minutes remaining in the opening period.

Good Hope had a quick response on their third play of its series as Parker Johnson rolled to his left and found a wide-open Cooper Johnson on the left side for a 59-yard score to tie the game up at six with 35 seconds remaining in the first quarter. The Warriors looked to answer on its next series. Mink found Dauksza for a 20-yard gain and that put West Point at the 31. After a holding penalty, Mink picked up 10 yards on the ground and a personal foul on the Raiders moved West Point up to the 11. Mink found the end zone on the next play to give the Warriors a 12-6 lead with seven minutes left in the first half.

The Raider running game got going on its next series as big runs by Hunter Miller and Parker Johnson put them at the 14. On third down, Parker Johnson found Michael Lee in the end zone for a 14-yard score to tie the game up at 12. A Warrior punt gave the ball back to Good Hope and a 36-yard pass from Parker Johnson to Cooper Johnson quickly put them in business at the 34. Two plays later, Parker Johnson connected with Cayden Adamson for a 30-yard pass play as they were now at the nine-yard line and Miller scored on the next play as Good Hope now held a 20-12 lead. Parker Johnson recovered the kickoff at the 37, but on the first play, Mink picked off a Johnson pass and returned it to the 31. The Raider defense kept them out of the end zone as they held a 20-12 lead at the half.

The third quarter saw Good Hope pound the ball right at West Point’s defense as Miller and Johnson picked up huge first downs during the drive. A nine-yard run by Johnson was followed by a nine-yard run by Miller and the Raiders quickly got in the end zone as Johnson found Lee for a 16-yard score to push their lead to 26-14 with 3:55 remaining in the third quarter. The Warriors looked to slow down Good Hope’s momentum on its next series as Mink picked up seven yards and that gave West Point a first down at the 43. On third down, though, Minck got sacked by Lee and came up short on fourth down.

A huge 31-yard run by Miller quickly had the Raiders at the 28-yard line and later on, another Johnson run gave them a first down. But they quickly went backwards, and West Point’s defense forced an incomplete pass on fourth down. The Warriors quickly got something cooking on its next series as Mink picked up 19 yards and a first down. Mink would then find Carter McAfee for 10 yards and Moon for nine more. After picking up a first down, Mink broke free for a 26-yard run two plays later to put West Point at the one and ended up finding the end zone on second down from there to cut it to 26-20 with 1:29 left in the game.

West Point’s defense came up with a huge stop on the second play of the series as Jayden Graveman recovered a Raider fumble at the 48. The Warriors looked to win the game on its final series, but a personal foul pushed them back to the 45. Mink connected with Moon for a 25-yard gain, but Isaiah Owen sacked Mink for a seven-yard loss on second down. Two plays later, Parker Johnson picked off a Mink pass to help seal the 26-20 win for Good Hope as they will take home the middle school championship.

Parker Johnson finished 5/9 for 155 yards and three scores. Cooper Johnson caught two passes for 95 yards and a touchdown, while Lee had two receptions for 30 yards and a pair of scores. Miller added 87 yards rushing and a touchdown. Parker Johnson also recovered a fumble and got an interception on defense, while Lee and Owen each got a sack in the contest. For West Point, Mink finished 9/18 for 108 yards and an interception. He added 82 yards on the ground and scored three touchdowns. Thornton ended up with 61 yards rushing. Moon added six receptions for 64 yards. Mink also picked off a pass on defense, while Stockman and Graveman each recovered a fumble for the Warriors.

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