Pike Road dominates Pleasant Grove for first State Championship
BIRMINGHAM – Pike Road High School’s stars shined brightly on the big stage.
Senior running back and Ole Miss commit Quinshon Judkins ran for 173 yards and three touchdowns, and defensive lineman Khurtiss Perry, one of the state’s top-rated uncommitted prospects, led a smothering defense as the Patriots (14-0) earned a 51-14 victory over Pleasant Grove (12-2) in Thursday night’s AHSAA 2021 Super 7 Class 5A championship football game at Birmingham’s Protective Stadium.
Two-way standout Iverson Hooks added a 1-yard scoring run, intercepted a pass and made five tackles despite leaving briefly with an injury. Freshman phenom Anthony Rogers scored on runs of 30 and 23 yards, finished with 123 yards on 17 carries and added a 74-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
“Words can’t describe how proud I am of this team,” Pike Road coach Patrick Browning said, “just seeing them come together and love each other. It’s something I’ll always remember. Without a doubt, these guys love each other and love playing with each other.”
Pike Road launched its program in 2016, moved into championship play in 2018 and has made four straight playoff appearances. The Patriots earned their first playoff win in 2019, won 11 games in 2019 and 2020 and rolled to an undefeated season and state championship this year. The school has gone 42-7 in the last four years and 36-2 in the last three seasons.
Pleasant Grove, coached by Darrell LeBeaux, finished as the 5A runner-up for the third consecutive season.
The three remaining finals in Classes 2A, 4A and 6A are set for Friday. All of the Super 7 championship games are being televised over the AHSAA TV Network and live-streamed over the NFHS Network. WOTM TV is producing the contests, and the AHSAA Radio Network is broadcasting all finals over its network of radio stations and the internet.
For more information concerning the broadcast feed in your area, go to the media link at www.ahsaa.com and you will find a link showing the network of cable stations in the WOTM TV network carrying the games and a link showing how to access the AHSAA Radio Network. Go to www.nfhsnetwork.com for information concerning the live-streaming.
Thursday night, Pike Road’s defense took control early. Pleasant Grove received the opening kickoff and promptly lost 8 yards on three plays and was flagged for a penalty before punting.
Pike Road took over in Spartans’ territory and needed just three plays to score. Rogers sprinted the final 30 yards for the touchdown less than three minutes into the game.
That opening sequence set the scene for the game as the Spartans struggled and Pike Road thrived. The Patriots scored touchdowns on four of their first five drives while attempting only one pass, and by the time Pleasant Grove’s offense crossed midfield, the Spartans trailed 27-0.
Hooks capped a seven-play, 48-yard drive with a 1-yard run, and Judkins scored on runs of 1 and 43 yards in the second quarter. The Patriots gained 180 yards on 27 first-half running plays and finished with 291 yards rushing on 55 carries and attempted only two passes all night.
Pleasant Grove’s Demarcus Lacey scored on a 5-yard run with three seconds to go before halftime and added a 15-yard TD run in the third quarter to make it 30-14. Rogers returned the ensuing kickoff 74 yards for a touchdown to push the Patriots’ lead to 37-14 and give momentum back to Pike Road with 2:13 to go in the third quarter.
Judkins, who earned MVP honors, scored on a 13-yard run after an interception in the final minute of the third quarter to push the Patriots’ lead to 44-14. Rogers closed the scoring with a 23-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.
“This has been a culmination of what started in 2016,” Browning said. “It’s been a fun ride this year.”
Pleasant Grove coach Alex Young completed 19-of-32 passes for 212 yards but was intercepted three times. Tadarius Parker caught five passes for a team-high 94 yards. Lacey finished with 72 yards rushing on 16 carries and caught three passes for 11 yards.
Markell Jordan led the Spartans’ defense with eight tackles, and Pike Road’s Dalen Henderson also had eight tackles.
Hooks finished 2-for-2 passing for 43 yards, including a 24-yard pass to Rogers. Pike Road’s Landen Holley kicked a 24-yard field goal. Rogers also had three kickoff returns for 105 yards.
Friday’s Super 7 championships feature Vigor (13-1) and Oneonta (13-1) in the 4A finals at 11 a.m. Cleveland (12-2) and Clarke County (12-2) square off at 3 p.m., in the 2A championship game and the 2021 Super 7 closes out Friday night with the much anticipated Class 6A finals featuring Jefferson County rivals Hueytown (13-1) and Clay-Chalkville (14-0). The Gophers’ only loss came in the season opener to the Cougars.