Calera ends season with loss to Saks in Class 4A playoffs

Despite an explosive first-half offensive showing, the Calera High School Eagles played their last game of the season after falling to Saks 63-28 in the first round of the Alabama High School Athletic Association 4A playoffs.

The Eagles stayed within one score of the Wildcats throughout most of the first half, but began to fall behind late in the third quarter as Saks’ offense began to dominate the field.

“I think our guys actually exceeded expectations this season,” said Calera head coach Scott Martin. “The game was toe-to-toe there for most of the first half, but their offense just pulled away after halftime.

“It’s a tough night. You hate to lose at home like that,” Martin added. “But you have to hand it to them. They (Saks) came out here tonight ready to play, and they just outplayed us.”

Both teams came out strong in the first quarter, as Saks’ Brandon Johnson ran 63 yards to score on the third play of the game.

After Saks missed its extra point, Calera (8-3) answered on the next drive when Zac Isbell reeled in quarterback Brandon Wells’ pass, completing a 49-yard pass play into the end zone. Nathan Langner’s point-after-touchdown gave Calera its only lead of the game at 7-6.

On the next drive, Saks’ quarterback Cordarius Cooper powered into the end zone from 5 yards out. Another failed point-after-touchdown gave the Wildcats a 12-7 lead.

Saks scored again late in the first quarter when Cooper connected with Rodney Sturkie to complete a 25-yard play into the end zone. The Wildcats’ 2-point conversion was successful after Cooper kept the ball and powered into the end zone, giving Saks a 20-7 lead.

Calera again answered early in the second quarter when Wells kept the ball and ran it in for a 1-yard touchdown. Langner’s extra point narrowed Saks’ lead to 20-14.

The Wildcats scored again on its next drive when Johnson broke free of defenders and ran 16 yards into the end zone. Joshua Reynolds then gave the Wildcats their second successful 2-point conversion of the night, putting Saks on top 28-14.

The next drive, a fake punt allowed Langner to sprint 58 yards to the Wildcats’ 17-yard line, setting up a 17-yard touchdown run by Wells. Langner’s extra point cut Saks’ lead to 28-21.

Saks added more points to the board midway through the third quarter, when Cooper caught a 20-yard pass in the end zone from Saks’ Marcus Cunningham. A missed extra point put the Wildcats on top 34-21.

Calera soon answered, when Jeremy Hyde caught a 16-yard pass from Wells after it bounced off the hands and helmets of at least three other players in the end zone. Langner’s extra point brought the score to 34-28.

Saks began to pull away with a pair of scores late in the third quarter, one on a 1-yard run by Reynolds and another on a 48-yard play by Sturkie. A pair of successful 2-point conversions put the Wildcats up 50-28.

The Wildcats scored twice more in the fourth quarter, once on a 4-yard run by Lee Anthony Dorsey, and again on a 23-yard Dorsey run. A failed 2-point conversion and a successful kick by Bryan Garcia-Luna put the Wildcats on top 63-28

Wells completed 16-of-36 passes for 290 yards with two touchdown passes and three interceptions in the loss.