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SPORTS ALERT: Cardinals’ one-two punch of West and Alston remove Dyer County to advance

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

Dyer County @ Brighton 1 Dyer County @ Brighton 2 Dyer County @ Brighton 3In four years as head coach of the Brighton Cardinals, Robin Jacobs had two Region titles and a runner-up finish.

That means his Cardinals have hosted First Round Division I-5A playoffs game the last three seasons. In 2015 and 2016, Brighton’s season came to an end on the brown turf of the Brighton Football Stadium in thrillers to Clarksville Northeast and Henry County. Entering this year’s game against the Dyer County Choctaws the Cardinals had a simple game plan of a quick start.

On the Cardinals’ first play from scrimmage Jacobs call for a Malik Jackson pass to Aaron Alston. The senior connection resulted in a 50-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead. Alston having big plays became a common theme throughout the night getting the monkey off the Cardinals’ back winning 69-34.

“It’s been a while since we’ve gotten to Round Two,” Jacobs acknowledged. “We’re part of the Sweet Sixteen that is left. We’ve got Southwind, a team we’ve already played. We’re very familiar with them.

“We’re excited about playing them in the Sound Round,” he continued. “We’re glad to get that monkey off our backs. Now we want to keep on advancing our program. We’ve come back from 3-4 and we’ve won 6 of our last 7. We just want to to keep on advancing further each year.”

Brighton won a marathon game 69-50 against the Southwind Jaguars Oct. 20. Southwind advanced out of the first round with a 35-28 win over Clarksville Northeast.

The Cardinals (7-4) path to a Jaguar rematch started with the Jackson to Alston TD pass.

“He told me it was going to be our first play,” Alston noted. “We were going to try to get started early and get up on them. We wanted to grip that momentum.”

Alston continued to do his part in grabbing the momentum taking a Jet Sweep to the house for a long touchdown run making the score 13-0.

The Cardinals closed out the first half with another big play when senior running back “Sir” Lance West exploded through the Choctaw defense for an 85-yard touchdown run making the halftime score 41-18.

“He’s been there all year,” Jacobs noted of West. “The first three games he didn’t have Aaron or Malik. They were hurt. He did it against Dyersburg and everybody. He’s got yards all year. He did it last year up until he broke his collarbone in the Region championship game against Central.

“He’s been an integral part of what we’ve been doing all year,” he added. “He does it against every team. He’s been a real workhorse. He’s probably got 1,700 yards rushing already.”

Jacobs noted the blocking scheme featuring Alex Belue, Enrique Toliver, Jordan Jones, Tyler Carmack, DJ Barker and Zach Dickinson has created the running room for West and passing lanes for Alston.

A passing lane opened for Alston when he took a short pass from Jackson and used a timely block to race toward the pylon leaping over the goal line for a 29-yard touchdown. Brighton was ahead 48-18.

The Choctaws (5-6) used a halfback pass for a touchdown to trim the deficit to 48-26 early in the third quarter.

Alston had the answer for Brighton once again taking a Back Screen pass and speeding to the end zone for a 55-yard touchdown to make the score 55-26.

“I try to do what I can for my team,” Alston said. “We wanted to try to make it to the Second Round. It’s been about 10 years since we’ve been there. I just wanted to help out my team.”

Before the third quarter concluded, Dyer County scored to make the tally 55-34. The Cardinals looked to ice the game with the plan of “Go West.” The senior running back set up his own 3-yard TD run with a big run deep into Dyer County territory.

With Brighton ahead 62-34, Alston made another big play this time on defense. He picked off a Choctaw pass in the end zone.

“We’ve talk to him about going to play defense,’” Jacobs said. “All good players can do both.’ When he’s on the field, he can change a game. We’re excited to have him. We’re going to try to get as many game out of him as we can. He’s been lights out also.”

Then it was time for West to run the ball again. He exploded up the center of the field deep into Choctaw territory once again. He capped off the drive with a 4-yard TD run. The Cardinal faithful knew it was time for Round Two and a rematch with Southwind.

“We have to do what we did when we beat them the first time,” Alston said. “We have to tighten up on the game plan. They did put up a lot of points and we had to fight to get out of that one. We have to get out quick next week.”

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