It was a battle of unbeatens Friday night at Garrett-Harrison Stadium.
In their toughest test of the season, the Central Red Devils, ranked No. 1 in Alabama Class 7A, hosted the No. 3 Auburn Tigers.
The defensive struggle left the teams with only one touchdown apiece and tied going into the fourth quarter. That’s when the Red Devils further confirmed their top ranking.
Central dominated Auburn in the final period for a 24-7 victory.
The Red Devils (10-0 overall, 6-0 Region 2-7A) finished the regular season undefeated. As region champions, they will host their first-round state playoff game in two weeks against an opponent to be determined. Auburn (9-1 and 5-1) finished second in the region.
“It’s a nice accomplishment for our program,” said Central coach Jamey DuBose. “I’m proud of our kids. We had a tough one here at the end, but our guys found a way to win. We played a good Auburn team. We had a lot of adversity, but we fought through it.”
Besides the intense competition from Auburn, that adversity included three starting offensive linemen leaving the game with injuries. Although they all should return for the playoffs, DuBose said, their absence pushed Central’s depth.
“That wouldn’t be easy for some colleges, but we found a way to win the ballgame,” he said. “We hadn’t been in a four-quarter battle all year. Our defense and defensive coaches did an outstanding job.”
Central senior running back A’montae Spivey, committed to Arkansas, scored the winning touchdown on a 3-yard run with 9:36 left.
On fourth-and-12 from the Auburn 32, the Red Devils gave themselves a cushion when senior quarterback Peter Parrish, committed to LSU, connected with senior tight end Kameron Mason for a touchdown.
Central sealed the victory when senior cornerback Camyen Feagins returned an interception 60 yards to the Auburn 8, and sophomore Noah Pell kicked a 25-yard field goal.
In the first half, Central senior linebacker/safety Xavier Billingsley Jr. scored on a 6-yard fumble recovery.
Spivey led the Red Devils with 153 rushing yards on 20 carries. Parrish added 42 yards on 11 carries. He also completed 7 of 11 passes for 72 yards. He spread the ball around to six receivers. His most productive target was senior wide receiver Drake Holloway, who had three receptions for 22 yards.
Central’s defense held Auburn to 162 total yards (115 rushing, 47 passing) while the Red Devils gained 332 (238 rushing, 94 passing).
Northside 31, Hardaway 28
The Northside Partriots remained in playoff contention with a key win Friday night over the Hardaway Hawks at Kinnett Stadium.
The Patriots improved to 4-5 overall and 3-4 in Region 1-AAAA, adding even more importance to their regular-season finale against Columbus at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 2, also at Kinnett.
Hardaway dropped to 5-4 overall and 3-4 in the region but still is in the playoff hunt. The Hawks finish the regular season against Westover on Nov. 3 at 11 a.m., also at Kinnett.
Bremen 42, Spencer 6
The visiting Spencer Greenwaves trailed 22-0 at halftime and couldn’t overcome the deficit Friday night.
The Greenwaves fell to 2-7 overall and 2-2 in Region 5-AA.. That’s still enough for fourth place in the region standings, which would give them the region’s final playoff spot if they can at least remain there after the regular-season finale Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. against Jordan at Kinnett Stadium.
Bremen improved to 8-1 and 4-1.
Bainbridge 49, Harris County 0
The visiting Harris County Tigers were in a 14-0 hole after the first quarter and 35-0 at halftime Friday night.
The Tigers ended their regular season 3-7 overall and 1-3 in Region 1-AAAAA, but they still are in contention for one of the four playoff spots in the five-team region because Thomas County Central (5-4, 0-3) lost 31-27 to Veterans (8-1, 2-1). TCC will host Bainbridge (4-5, 2-1) on Nov. 2 in their regular-season finale.
Macon County 43, Brookstone 39
In a wild Region 4-A crossover game Friday night, the visiting Brookstone Cougars (6-3, 4-1), second place in Division A, got nipped by Macon County (5-4, 3-2), second place in Division B.
With a playoff spot already secured, the Cougars will play for seeding when they host their regular-season finale Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. against Dooly County in another crossover game.
Schley County 45, Pacelli 0
The visiting Pacelli Vikings hurt their playoff chances by losing their regular-season finale Friday night.
Dropping to 4-5 overall and 2-3 in Region 4-A Division A, the Vikings came into the game ranked No. 28 in the GHSA Power Ratings for Class A private schools. The top 24 qualify for the state playoffs.
Marion County 24, Taylor County 0
The visiting Marion County Eagles (9-0 overall, 5-0 Region 4-A Division A), continued to play up to their No. 2 ranking in the GHSA Power Ratings for Class A public schools.
No. 25 Taylor County fell to 4-5 overall and 3-2 in Region 4-A Division B.
Dooly County 47, Manchester 22
The visiting Manchester Blue Devils (5-4 overall, 3-2 in Region 4-A Division A) missed a chance to solidify their playoff chances.
They came into Friday night’s game ranked No. 21 in the GHSA Power Ratings for Class A public schools against No. 19 Dooly County (5-4 overall, 3-2 in Region 4-A Division B). The top 24 qualify for the state playoffs.
Manchester will host Macon County at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 2 to finish its regular season.
Life Christian 32, Calvary Christian 8
The visiting Calvary Christian Knights fell back to .500 (5-5) in this non-region game Friday night at Life Christian (2-2).
Calvary will finish its regular season with a home game Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. against Flint River.
Prattville 23, Smiths Station 18
The host Smiths Station Panthers dropped out of playoff contention Friday night.
Fifth-place Smiths fell to 5-4 overall and 2-4 in Region 2-7A, while third-place Prattville improved to 6-3 and 4-2.
The Panthers finish their regular season Nov. 2 at 8 p.m. at Eufaula in a non-region game, so they can’t catch fourth-place Lee, which is 3-3 in the region.
Autauga 61, Glenwood 14
The visiting Glenwood Gators dropped to 4-6 in this non-region game Friday night at Autauga Academy (9-1) as they finished their regular season.
Glenwood will play in the first round of the AISA Class AAA playoffs Nov. 2 at 8 p.m. at Pike Liberal Arts (10-1).
Columbus 34, Dougherty 6
The visiting Columbus Blue Devils clinched a playoff spot Thursday night.
Columbus improved to 5-4 overall and 4-3 in Region 1-AAAA. The Blue Devils finish the regular season Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. against Northside at Kinnett Stadium.
Dougherty fell to 0-10 and 0-8.
Callaway 56, Jordan 0
The visiting Jordan Red Jackets trailed 21-0 after the first quarter and didn’t recover Thursday night.
Jordan fell to 2-7 overall and 1-4 in Region 5-AA, while Callaway improved to 8-2 and 5-1.
Chattahoochee County 48, Baconton Community 0
The visiting ChattCo Panthers (6-3 overall, 6-2 in Region 1-A) clinched a playoff spot by bashing Baconton (2-5, 2-5) Thursday night.
Cairo 45, Shaw 14
The Shaw Raiders fell out of playoff contention Wednesday night at Kinnett Stadium.
Shaw trailed 31-0 at halftime and didn’t recover.
The Raiders dropped to 3-6 overall and 2-6 in Region 1-AAAA. First-place Cairo, which scored four of its touchdowns on special teams, improved to 7-2 and 7-0.
Shaw is in eighth place in the nine-team region. The top four qualify for the state playoffs. Shaw finishes the regular season with a non-region game Nov. 2 at LaGrange.
Mark Rice, 706-576-6272, @MarkRiceLE.