Just seconds before the final horn signaled the end of unbeaten, No. 1-ranked UMS-Wright’s dominating 56-13 Class 5A first-round state playoff win over Headland, Bulldogs’ safety Joe Lott and coach Terry Curtis shard a heartfelt embrace on the sidelines.
It was a snapshot of what all of Curtis’ current and many former players in attendance must have felt as the legendary Bulldogs’ boss became the all-time winningest football coach Alabama High School Athletic Association history.
“I’m so relieved,” said the 72-year-old Curtis, surrounded by TV crews, sportswriters, photographers, and a sea of well-wishers on the field afterwards.
“Its good to get it out of the way, because I believe in some ways it’s been a little distraction to the guys. So now to get it over with we can go on about playing football and seeing how far we can do this thing.”
Curtis’ 347 victories moved him past Vestavia Hills legend Buddy Anderson for the most high school wins in AHSAA history.
“He’s always been a class act and does a great job,” said AHSAA Executive Director Alvin Briggs, who made the trip from Montgomery to be in attendance at Ervin S. Cooper Stadium for the history-making event.
“This community believes in him, so it’s awesome.”
Nothing short of awesome also describes the performance turned in by Bulldogs running back Cole Blaylock, as the University of South Alabama commit carried 17 times for 302 yards and four touchdowns to push UMS-Wright (11-0) into the second round of the playoffs next Friday against Beauregard, 35-10 winners over Marbury in their opener.
“The holes were just there,” said Blaylock, surrounded by offensive linemen Drew Crane, Liston Peterson, and Jack Otts.
The 6-foot, 185-pound Blaylock scored on runs on 3, 42, 48 and 38 yards for the undefeated Bulldogs, while UMS-Wright also got a touchdown runs of 7 yards by Lott and 1 yard by Crane, fulfilling an offensive lineman’s dream, a 13-yard TD strike from quarterback Sutton Snypes to Bo Wills and a 5-yard run by Jake Jaye.
John Ramsay was true on all 8 PAT kicks.
Headland’s two scores came on Jaxon Williams’ 71-yard TD spring on the second play of the game, and his 44-yard touchdown pass to Tylen Williams that briefly gave the Rams a 13-7 lead early in the second period.
They finish the season 6-5.
Key sequence: With just 2:10 left in the half, Blaylock’s 42-yard run made it 21-13. After the defense forced a 3-and-out, he ripped off a 48-yarder 28-13 lead just 2 seconds before intermission and followed that with his 38-yard sprint to the right pylon on the second play of the second half to make it 35-13.
By the numbers: 359-130 — Margin UMS-Wright is outscoring opponents by this season; 246-18 — Number of victories vs. losses the Bulldogs have when scoring 20 or more points; 31: — Number of first-round victories UMS has in the playoffs (31-4).
Coachspeak: “Hats off to them. They’re a great football team. They’re very well coached and disciplined. I think that shows by (coach Curtis) breaking the record tonight. I’m very proud of my guys for coming over here fighting.” — Tearful Headland coach Reggie Melton
They said it: “We just opened it up for him and he made plays like he always does.” — Otts.
“We watched the film, and we knew we’d be able to run it tonight.” — Crane.