Spain Park picks up vital region win over Tuscaloosa County

Published 12:56 am Saturday, October 7, 2023

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By NIC YOUNG | Special to the Reporter

NORTHPORT – The Spain Park Jaguars picked up their first region win against Tuscaloosa County on Friday, Oct. 6, as the offense erupted to get them back on the winning track in a 35-14 road victory.

“The last few weeks have been rough, but we have a good football team,” Spain Park coach Tim Vakakes said. “Our kids know it and our coaches know it.”

Spain Park was powered to the win by its run game as the backfield combined for 152 rushing yards. Derick Shanks rushed for 12 carries and 49 yards and Dakarai Shanks had 11 carries for 46 yards, while Brock Bradley, Omar Badawi and Reggie Jackson each scored a rushing touchdown.

The Jaguars got to a quick start off a 96-yard touchdown return by Reggie Jackson on the game’s opening kickoff, giving Spain Park a 7-0 lead.

After the teams traded punts, Tuscaloosa County started its drive at its own 49-yard line. The Wildcats moved the ball down the field thanks to the rushing efforts of Zaid Cadell, Marcus Mccants and Jayden Ford.

Tuscaloosa County willed itself to the 10-yard line before the Wildcats’ drive began to stall, causing them to opt for a 29-yard field goal on fourth down to make the score 7-3.

Spain Park began its next offensive drive on the 50-yard line. An offside penalty against Tuscaloosa County put the Jaguars into Wildcat territory early in the possession.

Spain Park took quick advantage of this good field position, scoring a few plays into the drive off a 26-yard touchdown pass from Bradley to Jonathan Bibbs to extend the Jaguars’ lead to 14-3.

Tuscaloosa County moved the ball well on the following possession marching from its own 22-yard line down the field to the Jaguars 19-yard line off the backs of Cadell and Mccants.

An illegal procedure penalty halted the Wildcats’ momentum and opened the door for Jamari Mosley to pick off quarterback Braden Smith a few plays later to get the ball back to the Jaguars.

Starting at their own 20-yard line, the Jaguars’ drive received an early spark off a Bradley screen pass to Bibbs for 18 yards that put them at around midfield. Facing a fourth-down situation on the Wildcats’ 32-yard line, the Jaguars elected to go for it but failed to convert.

The following Tuscaloosa County possession was short-lived as the Jaguars defense forced and recovered a fumble to give the ball back to its offense.

Following an incomplete pass on third down for Spain Park, a roughing the passer penalty moved the Jaguars up to the 18-yard line and gave them a new set of downs.

The groundwork of the Shanks brothers set up the score by Bradley on the QB keeper from the 1-yard line to increase the Jaguars’ lead to 21-3.

Operating with around two minutes left in the half, the Wildcats offense worked its way from their own 20-yard line to the Jaguars 34-yard line. The Jaguars seemed to have grabbed a drive-killing interception with seven seconds left, but a roughing the passer penalty gave the Wildcats a second chance.

The Wildcats used this opportunity to go for it as time expired. A pass attempt by Smith fell incomplete, but a pass interference call kept the drive going once again. Now at the 9-yard line, the Wildcats chose to kick a field goal making the score 21-6 going into halftime.

The Wildcats’ offensive woes continued at the start of the second half. After initially moving the ball effectively, the offense faced a fourth and short situation early and chose to go for it. An offensive miscue forced the Tuscaloosa County offense to fall on a fumble in the backfield resulting in a turnover on downs.

Now at the Wildcat 40-yard line, the Spain Park offense made quick work of this drive, marching to the 2-yard line where Badawi punched in another score to give the Jaguars a commanding 28-6 lead.

Tuscaloosa County opened its next offensive possession with a sense of urgency. Facing a third-and-long situation, Smith hit Jordan Chambers-Smith for a 19-yard gain to place the Wildcats in Jaguar territory at the 40-yard line and keep the drive going.

Working their way to the Spain Park 23-yard line, the Wildcats found their possession on the verge of being halted while facing a fourth and short situation. Cadell managed to just barely squeak by the first down markers to extend the drive.

The Wildcats used this momentum to will themselves to the 2-yard line, setting up a Mccants touchdown. Tuscaloosa County converted on a two-point conversion to bring the game within two possessions 28-14 early in the fourth quarter.

Tuscaloosa County was forced to punt on its next drive following a tackle for a loss by Jared Smith and a sack by Christian Smith on consecutive plays.

The Jaguars found themselves in a favorable field position, beginning their drive at their own 47-yard line. A 15-yard run off a direct snap to Jackson along with a face mask penalty propelled the Spain Park offense to the Wildcat 25-yard line.

A penalty pushed the Jaguars offense back, but a 35-yard reverse sweep touchdown by Jackson capped off this drive making the score 35-14.

Penalties played to the benefit of the Wildcats on next possession, but an interception by Arnold Bush sealed the game for the Jaguars.

The Jaguars will look to build upon their win taking on the Chelsea Hornets next week.