Calera falls despite 400 yards off offense

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

BIRMINGHAM – For the second consecutive year, the Calera Eagles have made it through the Demopolis/Jackson-Olin stretch 0-2 after falling to Jackson Olin 33-13 on Friday night, Sept. 29.

The loss to the Mustangs came despite the Eagles outgaining them 394-347 in total yards. That was in large part because of three turnovers that killed several Calera scoring drives late in the game and was also due to 286 yards given up on the ground.

“We need to work on not turning the ball over,” Calera head coach Andrew Zow said after the game of his team’s three turnovers in the game. “We just have to clean up our play because that was a self-inflected loss. We don’t feel like we have played well in three weeks despite a win over Central two weeks ago and a tight game against Demopolis last week.”

Before the Eagles could even bat an eye, Jackson-Olin had come out and gone up 23-0 before they knew what hit them. The Mustangs started the scoring with a 27-yard field goal, followed that up with a 39-yard touchdown run and another 5-yard touchdown run all within the first 12 minutes to take a quick 16-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

It didn’t take long for Jackson-Olin to add to that lead in the second quarter as they quickly took a 23-0 lead on a 29-yard touchdown pass.

“Before you knew it we were down 23-0 and reeling,” Zow said. “That’s not how you want to start a football game, but we gave ourselves plenty of chances to get back in it.”

On the ensuing kickoff, Calera finally got a massive energy boost that it desperately needed when Zakiyah Johnson took the kick and returned it 96 yards for a touchdown to put the Eagles on the board and cut the lead to 23-7.

They were able to hold the Mustangs for what seemed like the first time in the game and got the ball back shortly after. Calera took advantage of the momentum they were starting to build as Cornelius Brown threw a 52-yard touchdown bomb to Quindarius Crews to cut the lead to 23-13.

But the mistakes started setting back in shortly after. Calera got the ball back again and had a strong chance to cut the lead to three early in the fourth quarter, but a crucial fumble turned the tables.

“We had a chance to score again and get within three, but we fumbled and then they turned around and capitalized by scoring,” Zow said.

Shortly after the fumble, Jackson-Olin took a 75-yard run all the way to the end zone to extend its lead to 30-13. Just seconds before, Calera was in the red zone with a chance to get within in three, but instead found themselves down by 17.

Neither team did much of anything the rest of the way as Calera made a couple more mistakes. The Mustangs added a field goal with 30 seconds left to create the final of 33-13.

“We’ve got a week off now, so hopefully we can fix things and finish the rest of the season strong,” Zow said. “They had big runs that hurt us. We gave up too many of those tonight, we have to fix that and our guys will. They are ready and will be fine moving forward.”

Zow said he felt they left a lot on the field after his team only scored 13 points despite putting up close to 400 yards of total offense.

“Probably three or four drives where we were moving the ball and shot ourselves in the foot,” he said. “We have to make the most of our opportunities and capitalize moving forward.”

Decorean Mickens picked up 105 yards on 13 carries for a strong 100-plus yard performance. Brown was 18-of-34 for 279 yards through the air with one touchdown and one interception. His favorite targets were Chandler Smith and Quindarius Crews, who had 100 and 92 yards, respectively.

Calera (3-3, 2-1 Class 5A, Region 3) is coming off a tough two-game stretch and has plenty of positives to take away moving forward into the Eagles’ final three region games.