Jags top Oak Mountain with last-second field goal, both teams make playoffs
NORTH SHELBY – Spain Park kicker Cole Starr had made just one field goal on two attempts through almost nine full games.
His second make, a 37-yarder that was much longer than the previous one two weeks ago at Thompson, came with two seconds left on Oct. 21 to give the Jaguars a 23-20 win over Oak Mountain at Heardmont Park.
“When you go out there, you’re nervous, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” a smiling Starr said after the game between pats on the back from teammates and high fives from young fans.
The win had potential playoff implications, but Spain Park (7-2 overall, 5-2 region) was denied the No. 2 spot in Class 7A, Region 3—and homefield advantage in the first round of the state playoffs—because Mountain Brook defeated Huffman. SPHS will have the No. 3 seed.
Oak Mountain (3-6, 3-4), however, benefitted from the previously mentioned game, as the outcome coupled with Thompson’s loss to Hoover guaranteed the Eagles the No. 4 seed and a playoff berth despite falling in their home finale.
Spain Park and Oak Mountain will travel to either Bob Jones, Gadsden City or James Clemens, as those teams finished in a three-way tie in their region that will be decided by tiebreakers.
The two defenses dominated a scoreless first quarter on Oct. 21 and produced turnovers to set up their respective offenses.
Spain Park’s Douglas Henze recovered a fumble at Oak Mountain’s 36-yard line, and two minutes later, Larry Wooden Jr. ran in from six yards out for the game’s first score.
Starr’s point after made it 7-0 with 7:21 on the clock in the second quarter.
After the teams traded punts, Oak Mountain senior linebacker Min Lee intercepted a Spain Park pass, and a personal foul penalty on the visitors along with the return moved the ball to Spain Park’s 28-yard line.
Quarterback Jackson Kimbrell then rolled left and heaved a pass to the end zone, where David DeAraujo outjumped the defender and managed to come down in bounds for the touchdown.
William Carney kicked the extra point to tie the game with 1:07 remaining in the second quarter.
Kimbrell completed seven passes in 11 attempts for 112 yards, and DeAraujo caught three passes for 68 yards.
Spain Park’s first possession of the second half produced points when D’Arie Johnson found the end zone from three yards out.
The touchdown run was preceded by a 19-yard pass on third-and-10 from Braxton Barker to Wooden out of the backfield.
Barker completed nine passes in 21 attempts for 119 yards.
Johnson rushed 24 times for 97 yards.
After a stop by the Jaguars defense, the visitors seemed to take control of the game when Barker passed to Thomas Jordan across the middle for a 21-yard touchdown on third-and-eight with 8:10 left to play in the game to make it 20-7.
Starr’s missed extra point seemed insignificant but would come into play later.
Jordan caught five passes for 64 yards.
Oak Mountain’s offense, stymied for most of the night, drove 66 yards on the ensuing possession and scored on a one-yard run by Daniel Salchert II, but the hosts missed an extra point of their own to leave the score 20-13.
The Eagles defense then forced a three-and-out to retake possession of the ball with 2:33 on the clock.
A 35-yard pass from Kimbrell to DeAraujo covered most of the yardage needed, and on third-and-goal from the seven-yard line, Kimbrell pulled up and threw over the middle to Carson Bobo for a touchdown.
Carney’s point-after tied the game at 20-all with just 38 seconds remaining.
Spain Park took possession on its own 35 but advanced into field goal range on a pass from Barker to Wooden, who made a diving catch at the 20-yard line with seven seconds left.
Spain Park coach Shawn Raney said the 20-yard line had been considered the edge of Starr’s range, but the kicker confidently drilled the game-winner and the sideline erupted, though the Jaguars still had to make a stop on a kickoff to end the game.
“I’m so happy for him,” Raney said of Starr. “High school football, it’s all about the memories you make. He’ll remember that the rest of his life.”
Spain Park outgained Oak Mountain 329 yards to 217, but the Jaguars also committed six penalties for 68 yards.
Both teams turned the ball over twice.
Spain Park visits Minor on Oct. 28 for a non-region game, while Oak Mountain will visit Hazel Green.