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Year saw Tigers bid to repeat as state champs fall short

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
(Third in a three-part series)
September
* The T.R. Miller Tigers football team captured its Class 3A Region 1 opener with a 35-14 triumph over Straughn.
Senior Quarterback Brad Lannom threw for a career high 203 yards with three touchdowns to spark the win.
W.S. Neal was not as fortunate in its Region 1 opener, as it fell to eventual Class 3A state champion Pike County 41-24. Overshadowed in the Blue Eagles' loss was a 99-yard kickoff return by senior Alphonso Gross.
* The T.R. Miller Tigers racked up 63 points in a win over Calhoun despite just 158 yards in total offense. T.R. Miller blocked three punts, intercepted two passes and had a fumble recovery. Calhoun's miscues led to five touchdowns for the Tigers.
* Alphonso Gross rushed for 210 yards and five touchdowns in W.S. Neal's 48-14 win over Hayneville Central.
* W.S. Neal volleyball junior Jullian Crutchfield posted 12 points, three kills and three blocks in a five-set triumph over Escambia County.
The victory allowed the Lady Blue Eagles to double their victory total from their inaugural season from one to two.
* T.R. Miller High School seniors Brad Lannom and Ashley Samuel were nominated for the Wendy's High School Heisman Award.
* T.R. Miller senior volleyball player Kristen Bradley served 15 straight points and 24 total in a straight-set victory over Escambia County.
* The W.S. Neal Blue Eagles got two defensive returns for touchdowns by Roc Herbert and a punt return for a score by Alphonso Gross in a 35-0 win over Escambia County.
* The T.R. Miller Tigers ran their record to 5-0 with a 43-22 triumph over Andalusia. The Tigers scored 36 unanswered points after they fell behind 8-7 early in the game. A 70-yard touchdown run by Nick Puryear started the scoring blitz.
* The Jefferson Davis Community College Lady Warhawks volleyball team ended Alabama College Conference play with a 1-5 record after a four-set loss at home to Alabama Central.
* The T.R. Miller and W.S. Neal Blue Eagles football teams learned they would remain in Class 3A Region 1 for the next two years along with current members Straughn and Pike County. New teams which will join the region include Slocomb, Abbeville, Headland and Dale County.
* T.R. Miller senior tight end Trent Davidson gave a verbal commitment to play at the University of Alabama.
October
* Alphonso Gross ran for 205 yards and surpassed 1,000 for the season in W.S. Neal's 35-12 win over Clarke County.
* Senior quarterback Brad Lannom completed all eight of his pass attempts for a career high 251 yards in T.R. Miller's 57-26 triumph over Elba.
* Homecoming was a happy night at both T.R. Miller and W.S. Neal. The Tigers celebrated with a 48-14 win over Hayneville Central, while W.S. Neal flattened Calhoun 63-6.
Both teams clinched playoff berths with their respective victories.
* A last-second touchdown gave Pike County a 27-21 win over T.R. Miller. The loss snapped the Tigers' 13-game winning streak. Ironically Pike County was also the last team to beat the T.R. Miller.
* The JDCC Lady Warhawks volleyball team halted a 10-game losing streak with a straight-set win over Southern Union.
Sophomore Autumn Johnson powered JDCC to the win with 11 kills, while Lashundra Clausell added eight.
* The W.S. Neal Lady Blue Eagles snapped a 13-game losing streak with a straight-set win over Escambia County.
Sophomore Amanda Ziglar tallied 18 points and three aces to lead the winners.
* The first ever regional berth for the T.R. Miller Lady Tigers volleyball program was put on hold for at least another year after they lost a 25-13, 26-28, 15-12 decision to Sumter County at the Class 3A Area 1 Tournament.
T.R. Miller, which finished the year 6-19, was three points away from the regional berth with a 12-11 lead in the third and decisive set.
W.S. Neal was eliminated with back-to-back losses at the Area Tournament to Clarke County and T.R. Miller. The Lady Blue Eagles finished up at 3-19.
* T.R. Miller claimed the annual Murder Creek battle with a 20-14 win over W.S. Neal. Michael Jones' three-yard touchdown run with 45 seconds left gave the Tigers the come-from-behind win after W.S. Neal built a 14-0 first half lead.
* Prior to T.R. Miller's win over W.S. Neal at the high school level, Brewton Middle School also gained bragging rights over W.S. Neal with a 36-0 win.
Louis Ray Nelson scored three touchdowns for the Tigers, who finished their season with a 5-2 record. W.S. Neal concluded at 1-7.
* The JDCC volleyball team was knocked out of the state tournament with an elimination bracket loss to Bevill State.
After JDCC fell in the opening round to Northwest Shoals, JDCC ousted Central Alabama in round two.
JDCC finished the season at 7-24 under first-year coach Misti Nims.
* W.S. Neal erased a 16-point fourth quarter deficit in a 32-23 win over Geneva.
Alphonso Gross rushed for 346 yards and four touchdowns, while Justin Smith had a 44-yard interception return for a score to fuel the comeback.
* T.R. Miller senior Trent Davidson was just one of 10 players to be nominated for the Riddell Footwear All-American Team at the tight end position.
November
* JDCC sophomore volleyball player Autumn Johnson was named to the All-Region 22 Team.
* After an 0-2 start, the JDCC Warhawks basketball team picked up its first win of the season with a 100-97 overtime victory over Alabama Southern. Greg Dickinson fired in 33 points to lead JDCC.
* W.S. Neal posted its first playoff victory since 1996 when it beat Aliceville 10-6 in the opening round of the Class 3A playoffs.
T.R. Miller had little trouble in its first-round game, as it ripped Midfield 49-12.
* The Blue Eagles and Tigers set up a playoff meeting with second-round wins.
Alphonso Gross' eight-yard touchdown run and Ben Crane's interception in overtime gave W.S. Neal a 14-7 win over Montgomery Academy.
Michael Jones ran for 102 yards and three touchdowns in T.R. Miller's 53-25 win over Springville.
* T.R. Miller claimed "Murder Creek: Round Two" with a 31-14 win over W.S. Neal in the state football quarterfinals.
Skylar Fountain ran for two touchdowns and Antonio Gomez returned a kickoff for a score to spark T.R. Miller.
During the game W.S. Neal senior Alphonso Gross became just the ninth player in state history to rush for 6,000 career yards.
W.S. Neal concluded its season at 10-3.
* Despite having just seven players available due to the school's participation in the state football playoffs, the T.R. Miller Tigers basketball team downed Escambia County 49-43 in its season opener.
* T.R. Miller's bid to repeat as Class 3A state football champs ended in the semifinals with a 35-34 overtime loss to Pike County.
The Tigers forced overtime when Brad Lannom hit Tyler Shehan with a game-tying touchdown pass with five seconds left in regulation.
A touchdown run by Michael Jones in overtime gave T.R. Miller a 34-28 lead, but Pike County scored a touchdown and an extra point on its possession to win the game.
T.R. Miller ended its season with a 12-2 record.
December
* Tom Lawler got his first win as coach of the W.S. Neal High School girls basketball team when it beat Northview (Fla.) 57-37 thanks to 18 points by Carolyn Marshall.
* T.R. Miller Lady Tigers senior basketball player Ashley Samuel broke the school record for points in a game with 49 in an 80-14 win over W.S. Neal at the Escambia County Tournament.
The old record was 47 points set by Deanna Jackson back in 1997.
* The T.R. Miller Lady Tigers basketball team captured the championship of the Escambia County Tournament with a 3-0 record after a 55-24 win over Flomaton.
Ashley Samuel was named tournament most valuable player. Keonshaye Lane, Jasmine Sanford and Joy McCorvey also made the all-tournament team.
W.S. Neal, which went 0-3 in the tournament, placed Tierra Andrews and Carolyn Marshall on the all-tournament team.
* T.R. Miller went 1-2 and finished third in the Escambia County Boys Basketball Tournament. W.S. Neal went 0-3 and finished fourth.
The Tigers were represented on the all-tournament team by Greg Bogan and Trey Paul, while W.S. Neal was represented by Cory Freeman and Ron Dexter.