Jaguars improve to 2-0 heading into region play
Published 11:39 pm Friday, August 26, 2016
By STEPHEN DAWKINS
HOOVER – With the start of region play ahead and a hard-fought season-opening win behind, Spain Park’s football team avoided a potential letdown in Week 2 on Aug. 26 and instead defeated Muscle Shoals handily, 35-18.
“A win is a win,” coach Shawn Raney said. “We’ve just got a lot of stuff we’ve got to keep working to get fixed. I want to see us getting better every week.”
The Jaguars (2-0) built a 28-0 lead in the second quarter by scoring on each of their first four possessions of the game.
After Spain Park’s Cameron Toyer recovered an onside kick attempt by Muscle Shoals (0-2) to start the game, the hosts needed first-down throws by Hunter Howell to Joseph Dennis and Thomas Jordan on a pair of third-and-10 plays to keep drive alive.
Howell then found Larry Wooden for a 15-yard touchdown play with on the clock in the first quarter.
Cole Starr’s point-after made it 7-0, and SPHS would never trail.
The Jaguars appeared to have forced a three-and-out on Muscle Shoals’ first possession of the game, but roughing the passer call gave the Trojans a first down and jump-started a drive that stalled near midfield and ended with a punt.
“We’ve got some inexperienced kids,” Raney said about the penalty. “We’ve just got to learn how to play the next play. Those things are going to happen.”
On another third-and-long play, Howell passed to Jalen McMillan on a receiver screen, and McMillan ran 35 yards with 3:06 left in the first quarter to add to the lead.
Spain Park’s Damarius Farmer then tackled a Muscle Shoals ballcarrier in the backfield on fourth-and-inches to force a turnover on downs, and less than one minute into the second quarter, Wooden scored from six yards out by running around the left end.
The extra point made it 21-0.
Farmer and Toyer each had 5.5 tackles in the game to pace the SPHS defense.
Rayfe Richey took a turn making a drive-killing defensive play, tackling a Trojans ballcarrier behind the line of scrimmage on a third down to force a punt.
Wooden gave Spain Park its largest lead of the game, 28-0, with a 44-yard touchdown run on the ensuing possession.
Wooden rushed for a game-high 85 yards on eight carries, but Jalen Henderson, the team’s usual fullback, wasn’t far behind with 81 yards on 10 carries.
“He’s sacrificing to get on the field and play fullback,” Raney said. “A lot of kids wouldn’t do that.”
The Jaguars outgained their visitors, 438 yards to 239, and had 23 first downs to their 11.
Muscle Shoals got on the scoreboard before halftime when Stepfoen Davis ran it in from two yards out with 4:17 remaining in the first half.
The point-after was blocked by Spain Park’s Farmer, and the score was 28-6
The Jaguars’ streak of scoring on their first four possessions was snapped by a Montez Abernathy interception, and the hosts were on cruise control in the second half.
The Trojans cut into the lead with a run by Tariq Garner on third-and-eight with 9:52 on the clock in the third quarter, but Spain Park answered with a 16-yard pass from Howell to Jordan to make it 35-12.
Howell completed 12 passes in 19 attempts for 223 yards. His favorite target was Wooden, who caught six passes for 85 yards.
The only other score came on the last play of the game, when Muscle Shoals’ Jordyn Peters recovered a fumble in the Spain Park end zone.
The Jaguars now turn their attention to their first region game, at home against Vestavia Hills on Sept. 2.
Spain Park defeated the Rebels last year, 21-0, but trail in the all-time series with four wins and nine losses.