Josh Roe on the tackle

Joshua Roe (33) tackles East Limestone’s Fortune Wheeler as Logan Silva (4) closes in.

Arab’s offense came alive at an opportune time and the defense played its typically salty game as the Knights shattered any kind of ceiling that was ever placed over any football team in program history.

“I’m very proud of this entire bunch of players,” head coach Lee Ozmint said. “Arab players have always had limitations put on them.

“This group broke through those limitations.”

The Knights, ranked seventh in the final 5A poll, won their school-record 10th game and advanced in the 5A playoffs with a 54-14 win over East Limestone.

The win is just the second playoff victory for Arab and it was a big one as it sent the Knights into the second round of the state playoffs for only the second time. The Knights (10-1) play Moody on Friday night, again at home.

Arab’s offense already had been impressive during the 10-game regular season, as the Knights overaged 204 yards rushing, 186 passing and 37.9 points per game.

Against East Limestone, sophomore wideout Drew Puccio threw a 56-yard TD pass in the first quarter, caught touchdown passes of 24 yards and 33 yards in the second quarter, then returned the second-half kickoff 85 yards for another score. Puccio had six catches for 100 yards. He had 249 all-purpose yards on nine touches.

“He scored about every way you can score except digging a hole,” Arab coach Lee Ozmint said. “He’s a special player.”

Ozmint went out of his way to call it a team win – and achievement. Puccio did the same.

“We had a bunch of working parts working together,” he said. “It was beautiful.”

Puccio now has 317 yards passing (six touchdowns), 497 yards receiving (seven touchdowns) and 45 yards rushing for the season.

But against East Limestone, Puccio wasn’t the only Knight to have a big game. Quarterback Aidan Cox was 10-for-13 passing for 173 yards and three touchdowns. He’s now 121-of-174 passing for 1,730 yards and 20 TDs through 11 games.

Drake Franklin rushed for 80 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. He has now rushed for 1,602 yards and 24 touchdowns on 218 carries.

Hayden O’Reilly ran for 65 yards and one touchdown on six attempts.

Puccio’s first-quarter TD pass went to Brody McCain. Franklin had TD runs of 15 yards in the first quarter and 3 yards in the third quarter. One of Cox’s TD passes went to Spencer Strickland, an 18-yarder in the first quarter.

Arab led in total offense (400 yards to 261) and had an edge in first downs (22-12).

Josh Roe had a big game defensively for Arab with an interception, eight solo stops and five assists.

Other defensive leaders included Dylan Morrow, five solo stops, one assist; Hagen Stewart, four solos, two assists; Wyatt Lamar, two solos, four assists; Patrick Lawler, three solos, two assists; and Will Caneer, Lawson King and Logan Silverm two solos and two assists each.

O’Reilly made two tackles with one assist. John Ray Wilks, Zac Hallman and Conner Knighten each had two solo tackles.

East Limestone ends its season at 5-6.

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