By Mike Easterling
HUNTSVILLE -- Friday night provided a senior moment for Decatur, but the elder Red Raiders can thank a junior for the experience.
Jackson Fite, an 11th-grade quarterback, tossed two first-half touchdown passes in the first half and ran for another in the second to lead a 34-14 win over Grissom at Alabama A&M's Louis Crews Stadium.
Decatur reached a school tradition started by legendary coach Earl Webb by improving to 7-3. Any senior class that records seven wins gets its picture placed on the fieldhouse wall.
"It's good to get a win and be hot going into the playoffs,'' Fite said. "And getting seven wins for the seniors is a tradition at Decatur.''
The Red Raiders travel to Clay-Chalkville for a Class 6A first-round game next week, but for now will savor the seventh victory.
"It's a big deal at Decatur,'' Red Raiders coach Jere Adcock said.
Meanwhile, Grissom ended its first season under Dale Overton 3-7.
While the Tigers, who trailed just 14-7 at halftime, seemed to show marked improvements at times during the season, Overton said they must hit the "weight room'' as soon as possible.
"We're as weak as well water,'' he said. "(Friday night) came back to what it's been all year. We've got guys playing on both sides of the ball and they get tired and have mental lapses.''
The Red Raiders started the scoring with a 32-yard, flea-flicker reception from Fite to Jordan Tibbs. Joseph Douthit kicked it to 7-0 with 3:58 left in the first half.
Decatur later made it 14-0 in the second quarter when Fite hooked up with Harold Blades on a 23-yar scoring strike. Douthit added the kick with 6:07 left in the half.
Grissom tightened the game to 14-7 with a touchdown just before halftime when quarterback Thomas Hill scored from the 1-yard line with 10 seconds remaining.
The Red Raiders began putting the game away in the third quarter when Josh Matthews scored on a 2-yard run to make it 20-7.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Fite rambled in from the 5 and Douthit kicked it to 27-7.
Grissom got its final touchdown to make it 27-14 on fourth-and-goal from the 7 from Hill to Garrett Rogers on fourth-and-seven with 5:43 remaining in the game.
Decatur tacked on a 32-yard scoring run by senior Josh Matthews with 3:26 remaining.
The Red Raiders, fielding perhaps the smallest team in terms of size since Adcock’s first in 1996, now head into the playoffs against sixth-ranked Clay-Chalkville.
“It kind of puts them at a point of playing with an edge,’’ Adcock said of his team. “These guys had to overcome a lot playing in a tough region. We’ve got a great senior class and this season speaks volumes for them.’’
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