It was difficult to determine which was more impressive, Jamal Cooper’s performance as a Montgomery Academy quarterback or the Eagles’ 28-0 shutout against TR Miller in the 3A State Playoff quarterfinals in the McLemore Field Friday night.
Head coach Robert Johnson was quick to congratulate Cooper, the senior running back turned quarterback.
“Jamal played a sensational quarterback game,” Johnson said. “He creates another dimension because, not only is he really balanced out there, but he’s quick, quick, and he reads things so well.”
Cooper, who went from running back to full-time quarterback early in the playoffs, recorded 78 passing yards, 118 rushing yards and one touchdown.
It was also easy to praise the defense, who gave one of the state’s best-known playoff teams a rare shutout. In a rich tradition of 128 playoff games over the past 51 years, TR Miller has only been shut out four times in school history. Since the last playoff shutout, a 10-0 loss to Lanett in 1987, TR Miller has only been shut out once (a 25-0 loss to Andalusia in 2015) in 437 games before the Friday defeat.
“Our defensive line played exceptionally and they dominated the game from start to finish,” said Johnson. “I was so proud of our defense for ruling out TR Miller, which is one of the best offensives in the state.”
The Eagles started the scoring after Jashawn Cooper, who had 104 yards and three touchdowns, made his first touchdown of the night around the middle of the first quarter to take a one-scoring lead.
Early in the second quarter, Jamal Cooper scored his only touchdown of the game to take a two-goal lead.
The Tigers were unable to convert a fourth game near midfield with just over two minutes to go in the first half and the Eagles capitalized on good field position with another Jashawn Cooper touchdown for a 21-0 lead at halftime.
Jashawn Cooper added another touchdown midway through the third quarter for the final points of the game.
The victory sets up a rematch between Montgomery Academy (11-3) and Catholic in the 3A semi-final. Last year at McLemore Field, the Knights handed MA their only overtime loss of the season in the semifinals. This year’s rematch marks the first consecutive semifinal appearance for the Eagles since 1987-88.
“We have a 24 hour rule,” Johnson said. “But after that, we’re going to get back to work and try to do our best against the number one team in the state.”
This time the game will be at Catholic. The Knights defeated Montgomery Academy 42-0 at home on September 24.