Spain Park Comes From Behind to Beat Tuscaloosa County, 35-34
It took Spain Park seven games and over 200 miles of travel but finally the Jaguars secured their first 7A victory of the season.
In their final game of regional play, Spain Park trailed for 47 minutes and 26 seconds but in the waning moments, the Jaguars were able to take its only lead of the game as junior Bennett Meredith found senior Cooper Kelley on a seven-yard touchdown pass.
"I'm so proud after all we've been through man, it's just how they continue to fight and I'm proud of them," Spain Park head coach Shawn Raney said. "It's so rewarding [to] get this win so we're excited we're fixing to have a little dance party in the locker room, it has been a long time coming."
The Jaguars were able to dance the night away thanks in large part to the Meredith and Kelley connection. Kelley found the end zone three times, all of which came in the second half.
The senior wideout racked up 114 yards receiving becoming Meredith's favorite target down the stretch as five of his eight catches came in the fourth quarter, which includes the game winning catch.
"It was a great catch," Raney said. "I mean he has done that his whole career and he made a bunch of them. That's why I was disappointed in the first half, we were dropping some balls but we came out and we executed in the second half."
In a dominating Tuscaloosa County first half, Spain Park was only able to complete eight passes. However, costly drops and an interception allowed the Wildcats to take a 20-point lead into halftime while keeping the Jaguars off the scoreboard.
Then, the offense came to life and with that so did the Jaguar defense which struggled to contain Tuscaloosa County senior running back Damien Taylor. Taylor finished the game with 257 yards rushing and three touchdowns but like a heavyweight fight, the Spain Park defense was able to take the blows but remain poised to deliver the final blow when the time came.
That time came with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats ran an option to the right which left Taylor open with room to run. Tuscaloosa County found success with this play in the third quarter as Taylor scored on a 30-yard touchdown run with the same motion out to the right.
However, Spain Park sophomore linebacker Cailon Hudson read the play perfectly and stopped Taylor with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Raney said that he knew it was going to be a challenge to contain Taylor but was proud of the way his defense competed despite allowing some big runs.
"To win a game in this region, it takes a lot of work and when you get it you better appreciate it," Raney said. "There are no ugly wins in this region its just hard to get one. To keep our kids fighting after what we have been through, I'm very proud of them."
Tuscaloosa County's final game in the 2020 campaign will be on the road against Northridge. Spain Park will also close its season on the road as they take on Hueytown.