Muscle Shoals

Muscle Shoals running back Markel Ricks (24) looks for an opening along the sideline in the Trojans 61-20 victory over Albertville Friday night in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs at James F. Moore Stadium. [TODD THOMPSON/RIVERCAT PHOTOGRAPHY]

MUSCLE SHOALS — Muscle Shoals scored in all three phases of the game en route to a 61-20 win over Albertville Friday in the opening round of the Class 6A state playoffs.

The Trojans led 33-0 at halftime before adding two more scores in the first 1:46 of the third quarter to put the game away.

Albertville quarterback Benjamin Allen threw for 268 yards on 21 of 34 passing, but he was sacked six times in the first half, including a fourth-down play on the game’s opening possession.

The Aggies (5-6) had used a nine-play drive to reach the Muscle Shoals 24-yard line before Jackson Bratton ended the threat with a 9-yard loss on fourth down.

“Everybody does something a little different in the playoffs and they gave us some sets we hadn’t seen before,” said Muscle Shoals coach Scott Basden. “I thought (defensive coordinator) coach Stephen Lawler and his staff did a great job making adjustments. We played a little like we had been off a week. You never want to underestimate your opponent. It’s all about surviving.”

The Trojans needed only four plays to take the lead. Brooks Berry ran for 60 yards in three snaps, including a 6-yard score to give the home team a 6-0 lead at the 5:22 mark in the opening quarter.

Landon Smothers had touchdown passes of 51 yards to Ty Smith and 30 yards to Mikey McIntosh to extend the lead to 20-0 before the Trojans got a defensive score.

Thomas Marinelli returned an interception 34 yards for a touchdown for a 26-0 lead with 3:37 remaining in the half.

Smothers then led a 6-play, 59-yard drive to close the half. His pass to Nick Griffith with 22 seconds remaining gave the Trojans a 33-0 lead at the break.

Any hopes of an Albertville comeback were dashed in the opening minutes of the third quarter. After the Aggies tried to pooch the second-half kickoff, Jacob Peters picked up the ball, made one man miss and then outran the coverage team down the right sideline for a 62-yard touchdown.

A fumble by the Aggies set up the next score just 1:13 later. Smothers found Griffith in the back of the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown to give the home team a 47-0 lead.

The lead reached 54-0 when backup quarterback Luke Peoples hit Smith for a 10-yard score midway through the third quarter. Consecutive touchdown drives by Albertville briefly made the score 54-14 before Keevon Hankins wrapped up the scoring for the Trojans. The senior appeared to be caught in the backfield for a loss on fourth down before breaking multiple tackles and finding a hole up the middle for a 39-yard touchdown.

The Aggies added another touchdown in the closing minutes to account for the final score.

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