MARIETTA — Kell set up a sub-region championship game with Pope after holding on for a hotly contested 33-21 Canton Road Classic victory over Sprayberry.
The Yellow Jackets(2-6, 1-2) matched the ninth-ranked Longhorns (7-1, 3-0) through three quarters but could not overcome six turnovers, including five interceptions thrown by quarterback Shane Young.
Kell closed the door on Sprayberry in the fourth quarter when Jay Moxey intercepted Young with 9:26 left to play and the Longhorns up 27-21.
The interception set running back Khalil Bell and company up at the Sprayberry 14-yard line. The Yellow Jacket defense did its best to keep the Longhorns out of the end zone, but Bell ran the ball seven times and punched the ball in from 1 yard out with 5:53 remaining on the clock.
“Our offensive line played great in the second half so that we could get some positive yards, and really helped keep their offense off of the field,” Kell coach Derek Cook said.
On the ensuing kick-off Jonathan Palmer set the Yellow Jackets up at their 44-yard line with a 40-yard kickoff return. Young connected with Darryl Fagan for a 15-yard gain, and followed that with a 33-yard run to the Kell 8-yard line. However, two plays later Young missed an open receiver in the end zone and watched as South Carolina commit Brendan Langley made a leaping one-handed interception to seal the win for the Longhorns.
“They made less mistakes than we did,” Sprayberry coach Billy Shackelford said. “We moved the ball and the defense (gave) us some opportunities and we just made some turnovers.”
Langley finished with two interceptions as did Taylor Henkle, who added a 74-yard touchdown reception after tipping the ball away from a Sprayberry defender and hauling in the pass to put Kell up 21-14 to start the second half.
The running back duo of Bell and Jamari Moore combined for 240 yards rushing for the Longhorns. Bell scored the ball three times gaining tough yards throughout the game, while Moore showcased his speed on 43-yard touchdown and averaged more than 9 yards per carry.
Despite three interceptions and a fumbled punt in the first half, Sprayberry battled its way to a 14-14 draw at halftime. Running back Corey Cooper rushed for 66 yards on eight carries on the first half, gashing the Kell defense on nearly every carry.
Sprayberry moves on to face Osborne in hopes of retaining the third seed for the region 7AAAAA play-in game.