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Tigers, Daniels run through Rebels

By Michael Butler

It's always nice to start off on the right foot. That right foot might be the right cleat of Tallassee High School senior running back Jalyn Daniels. Daniels helped Tallassee turn the tables on rival Reeltown in avenging last year's home overtime loss with a 34-13 win in front of a rain-drenched capacity crowd at Nix-Webster-O'Neal on Thursday.

Daniels had touchdown runs of 2, 90 and 50 yards on his way to 328 yards in all in the victory. It was not quite a career best. Daniels ran for 349 yards against Elmore County. Brandon Baynes holds the single-game record for rushing yards with 392 vs. Talladega in 2014.

"I'm happy for the kids," THS head coach Mike Battles said. "It's been 22 years since Tallassee beat Reeltown. It was very important for all of us because we've preached it for the last eight months. We lost to them last year and had to live with it for the last 364 days. It's just something that I thought our kids took a grip of and really worked toward getting this done for our town and community."

The "Battle of the Tallapoosa" was renewed last year for the first meeting since 2003. The Rebels left J.E. "Hot" O'Brien Stadium with a 27-21 win and a scoreboard picture. The Tigers got their scoreboard pic this time breaking a five-game win streak by Reeltown in the series which is now tied 9-9.

"I told the seniors and team before the game," Battles continued, "'If you do this, when you come back for your 20-year reunion they might not remember a whole lot about you but they'll remember you were the first team to beat Reeltown when it came back. You've evened the score.'"

Photo by Kyle Thornton

Things did not begin well for the Tigers. On Reeltown's first play from scrimmage, Dakarian "Juicy" Hughley scored on a 75-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead. On the ensuing drive, the Jalyn Daniels show got going.

Daniels ran the ball all nine times out of "Wildcat" formation on Tallassee's opening possession - a 60-yard scoring drive - that ended with a two-yard TD to tie it a 7-7.

That Wildcat was the Tigers' bread and butter throughout the night minus starting quarterback Tyler Ellis. All of Tallassee's 341 yards of offense came via the ground game.

THS grabbed its first lead on a scoop and score fumble recovery by Cade Everson of 44 yards at the 5:38 mark of the first quarter. The 14-7 advantage held up until halftime.

After an electrifying 95-yard score by Daniels to give Tallassee a 21-7 lead on its first play from scrimmage of the second half, Reeltown countered with a 40-yard drive ending with a 4-yard touchdown by Jeffrey Thompson. After a missed extra point, it was 21-13 and would be the last points for the Rebels on the night.

On the next offensive play, Daniels broke free again for a 50-yarder scoring on consecutive touches of the football. Zavion Carr added put an exclamation point on the night in the fourth quarter with a five-yard run. The point after attempt was blocked.

"You've made this entire city and your moms and dads who went to Tallassee proud," Battles told his team. "It's something that you'll have for the rest of your life."

Tallassee opens its home slate with Wetumpka on Friday in the 69th meeting between the two. The teams first played in Tallassee's first season in 1921. Wetumpka won 27-0. The Indians won last year 35-14 and have a nine-game win streak in the rivalry. The Tigers lead the overall series, 35-31-2.

1300 WTLS/106.5 FM will have live coverage on the radio as well as Spectrum Channel 340 and the TuneIn app. Live video streaming will be available through Tallassee Times TV on YouTube. Airtime is 6 p.m.

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