Hoover High School scored two touchdowns in the final two minutes of the first half Wednesday night and held on to beat Prattville 35-21 to claim the first Class 7A state football championship in Alabama High School Athletic Association state playoff history.
Coach Josh Niblett’s Bucs claimed their third state title in a row, 12th game in a row and captured their 39th straight win against AHSAA competition with with win on Dec. 3 at Auburn University’s Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The game MVP was Marcus Webb, who rushed 22 times for 153 yards and one touchdown. Teammate Bradrick Shaw added 101 yards and two scores on 19 tries as Hoover piled up 244 yards on the ground.
The Bucs scored first, taking the opening drive 80 yards on 12 plays and culminating with quarterback Jack Hucheson’s 7-yard pass to Quincy Cox. The march ate up 5:37 of the first quarter and set the tone with the strong running attack.
Webb scored on a 20-yard run midway through the second quarter and Shaw followed with a 5-yard TD run at with 2:04 left in the half.
Prattville (11-3) cranked its offense a minute later when quarterback Keith Washington connected with Seth Knotts for a 50-yard touchdown pass a minute later to cut the Hoover lead to 21-7.
The Bucs weren’t done, however. Leonard Wood scored with 20 seconds left in the half on a 41-yard pass from Jack Hutcheson to take a 28-7 lead into intermission. Hutchison finished 9-of-15 for 150 yards and two TDs with Alex Elam the leading receiver with three catches for 67 yards.
Coach Chad Anderson’s Lions drove 67 yards on nine plays to open the third quarter and cut the lead to 28-14 with Washington’s short sneak into the end zone. Hoover bounced right back on Shaw’s 20-yard TD run two minutes later to stretch its lead to 35-14.
Prattville closed out the scoring when Derek Gappa hauled in a 41-yard TD pass from Washington with 4:51 to play. Washington finished 11-of-23 for 170 yards with Knotts catching five passes for 170 yards. Gappa also had five receptions for 86 yards. Joseph Burke had 58 yards rushing on 16 carries for the Lions.
Defensively, Hoover linebacker Jeremiah Mood had a game-high 10 tackles and Micah Bagley had eight. Anthony Brown was in on seven stops for the Lions with one sack.
Hoover has now won nine state championships since 2000 including 6A titles in 2012 and 2013. The last loss in-state came in a 35-34 loss to Prattville in the 2012 state championship game.