Spain Park’s comeback attempt falls short against Bessemer City

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

HOOVER – Spain Park was close to overcoming a 28-7 first-half deficit in a matchup with Bessemer City on Friday, Aug. 30, when the Jaguars came back to tie the game 35-35, but a second rushing touchdown run from Tigers’ quarterback Rishard Densmore with 9:22 left to play proved to be too much in a 42-35 home loss for the Jaguars.

Coming off a 42-33 victory over Hillcrest-Tuscalloosa where senior quarterback Harrison Barker totaled 488 passing yards and four touchdowns, the Jaguars picked up right where they left off in that one with a quick touchdown strike to start the game thanks to a 51-yard touchdown pass from Barker to Cooper Kelley.

That started what became another impressive game for Barker, who finished the game 29-for-49 with 358 yards and three touchdowns.

Up 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, it also looked as if the Spain Park defense was taking a step forward following some struggles in game one.

But in the second quarter, that drastically changed.

Bessemer City came out and scored 28 unanswered points in the quarter to take a 28-7 lead.

The Tigers started their scoring on a 27-yard touchdown run from Densmore with 11:50 remaining in the half. Following a failed 2-point conversion attempt, Bessemer City still trailed by one point, but not for long.

It took less than three minutes for the Tigers to get the ball back and score again when Deontae Hall punched in a 6-yard touchdown run to put his team on top for the first time in the game. Following a successful 2-point attempt from Densmore, the Tigers were up 14-7 with 9:08 to play in the second quarter.

Less than four minutes later and Bessemer City got an explosive 50-yard touchdown pass from Densmore to Jamichael Rogers for a 21-7 lead with 5:30 until the break.

Bessemer City wasn’t done with the onslaught of points in the quarter, as Hall added a second touchdown run in the frame thanks to a 17-yard carry with 2:51 to play in the half, which put the Tigers on top 28-7.

Lost in the shuffle of the quick scoring from the Tigers was Spain Park’s lack of moving the ball successfully for the first time this season, but that didn’t last long.

On the ensuing drive, the Jaguars went to work quickly with a 50-plus yard pass from Barker to Kelley, which set up a short 1-yard score from Callens to cut the Jags’ deficit to 28-14 at the half thanks to a much-needed score.

That score gave Spain Park confidence coming out in the second half, as the Jaguars again quickly marched down the field in less than two minutes and got a 4-yard touchdown pass from Barker to Callens to get back within seven points with plenty of time left in the game.

But right as Spain Park had cut it to a one possession game, Bessemer City came back with a lethal blow when Densmore hit Rogers again for a 15-yard touchdown pass that put the Tigers back on top by 14 at 35-21 with 7:10 left in the third quarter.

The Jaguars, however, had gotten back into a successful offensive rhythm, and again had an answer on the ensuing drive with another explosive play when Barker hit Jaylen Ward for a 36-yard touchdown pass to cut it back to seven points midway through the third quarter.

The rest of the quarter went by scoreless, as the Jags’ defense stepped up and gave the offense an opportunity to tie the game.

Just 1:28 into the final quarter, Spain Park was able to cap off a game-tying drive with a 1-yard touchdown run from Austin Hutcheson to make the score 35-35 with 10:32 left to play.

Needing just one more stop to give its hot offense a chance to win the game, the Jags couldn’t come up with it as Bessemer City scored on that 28-yard touchdown run from Densmore to create the final score of 42-35.

Spain Park put together one final lengthy drive, but was unable to push the game-tying score across the goal line.

Callens led the team’s ground attack with 60 rushing yards, while also adding 58 receiving yards. Kelley had an incredible game at receiver with 185 yards and a touchdown on nine receptions. Ward also added a touchdown and 41 yards on three receptions.

Spain Park will now travel to Vestavia Hills to begin region play on Friday, Sept. 6, as an important stretch of games lies ahead.

Photos available at Shelbycountyphotos.com.