Spain Park racks up 492 yards in opening-night win
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor
HOOVER – The Spain Park Jaguars racked up nearly 500 yards of offense on Friday, Aug. 20, in a new-look attack that worked to perfection on their home field against visiting Huntsville.
After beating the Panthers 52-21 a season ago with an air-raid attack, the Jaguars were more balanced this season in their new triple-option style offense, but they totaled 492 yards of offense nonetheless.
Quarterback Evan Smallwood did it with both his arm and his legs, throwing for 131 yards and a touchdown on 13-of-18 passing, while he also ran for 83 yards on 15 carries.
In addition to his presence, Zamir Farris and Zavier Long both topped the century mark in the opener with Farris totaling 129 yards and one touchdown on 12 carries and Long totaling 113 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.
The Jags showcased their running ability early in the game with Long and Farris trading touchdowns in the opening quarter.
Long struck first on an 11-yard touchdown run to give the Jaguars a 7-0 lead, while Farris followed with a strong 21-yard run to the end zone to put the Jags up 14-0 with 2:50 left in the opening quarter.
Spain Park followed with two more impressive drives through the first six minutes of the quarter, but were forced to settle for field goals.
Luckily for the Jaguars, Braxton Sumpter found an early rhythm in the kicking game.
He nailed a 35-yard field goal and a 26-yard field goal in a span of two minutes to make it 20-0 with 6:50 to play in the first half.
Huntsville finally answered late in the second quarter with a 2-yard touchdown run, but a 2-point attempt was no good, leaving the Jags ahead by 14 points.
Spain Park got one more chance to put points on the board in the half, and with Sumpter’s warmed up leg, the Jags did just that.
They got just close enough for him to nail a 52-yard field goal as time expired in the opening half to put Spain Park in front 23-6 at the half.
Impressively, the Jaguars didn’t need much more offensively the rest of the night thanks to an impressive and welcome performance from the defense.
They held the Panthers to six points for the majority of the second half, which allowed them to be more methodical offensively.
With a slower approach, Spain Park didn’t score until 2:56 left in the third quarter, but that was all that was needed to ice the game.
Smallwood hit Clay Spencer for a 21-yard touchdown pass to make it 30-6.
Just for good measure, with 2:17 left to play, Long escaped on a 41-yard touchdown run to give Spain Park a 37-6 advantage.
With the game already in hand, Huntsville did respond this time on a 67-yard touchdown pass a minute later, creating the final score of 37-13.
Pierson Cole led the 1-0 Jaguars at the receiver position with 71 yards on four receptions, while Spencer added two catches for 36 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, Brian Alston and Jack Kendrick both had a tackle for loss, while Kendrick and Ethan Gutowski led the team with 4.5 tackles in the win. Kendrick also added key interception in the game to help the Jaguars hold momentum in the second half.