It was not the result that Glenwood hoped for as the Gators opposed Bessemer Academy for the AISA class AAA state football title at Troy University’s Veterans Memorial Stadium on Nov. 22.
The Rebels staked a 21-0 halftime advantage into a 49-22 victory over Glenwood for their fourth title in the last six years and Bessemer’s ninth title overall. Bessemer has been in the title game every year of this decade and the last time Glenwood was in the title contest, the Gators lost to Bessemer in 2011.
A subdued Glenwood coach Jason Gibson summed it up for the media conference after the game.
“We had a bad first half on offense and dug a hole we couldn’t climb out of,” Gibson said. “Defense carried us most of the year and they are not the blame for the score—we just gave them a short field, they score twice in about 10 seconds and we couldn’t recover from it.”
What Gibson was referring to was the two touchdowns the Rebels scored in the closing seconds of the first quarter.
Late in the period Bessemer drove down to eight but was stopped by the Gator defense. Bessemer’s Jackson Stewart tried a field goal and Glenwood’s Grant Parham blocked the kick.
The Gators could not pick up a first down and Dalton Rhodes punt was returned to by Bessemer’s Josh McMillon to the eight. It took McMillon one play to score and the Rebels drew first blood and Stewart’s kick made it 7-0.
After the Bessemer kickoff, Kye Robichauex fumbled for the Gators on the first offensive play and Bessemer’s all-state defensive end L T Overton picked the ball up and ran it in for a touchdown as the end of the quarter horn went off.
The Rebels made it 21-0 at the half on 240-pound Christopher Pickens three-yard run with 14 seconds to go before intermission and again it was a short drive of only 44 yards.
“We have played championship defense all season. These guys have worked hard and played hard but when you don’t move the ball and don’t score, you can’t win,” Gibson admitted.
“Bessemer has set the standard. Glenwood has not been here for a while but we will be back. This is not going to be our last trip here,” Gibson added.
The second half, both teams offenses were in high gear as the Rebels scored four touchdowns and the Gators scored three.
Quarterback PJ McDonald threw touchdown passes of 68 and 64 yards to Jacob Barry and Josh McFarland.
Sandwiched between those two TD passes, halfback Daryl Monn scored Glenwood’s first touchdown on a 14-yard run,
After McFarland’s long TD pass, Bryce Newman countered that with a long TD pass of his won, a 44-yard scoring strike to Marco West-Sanchez, making it 35-14.
The Gators attempted an onside kick after the second TD and it looked at first as if Glenwood recovered but when the pile was uncovered, the ball belonged to Bessemer.
The Rebels only had 49 yards to drive and McMillon finished it off with a nine-yard run.
In the final quarter, Monn scored his second TD of the game on a four-yard wildcat play and then ran for a two-point conversion. The Rebels ended the night with a 33-yard scamper by Jarvis Dancy.
For Monn, that gave the senior seven touchdowns scored in the playoffs as well as a two-point conversion even though he only ran for 25 yards in the game.
Newman was the top ball carrier for Glenwood as the Rebel defense keyed on Robichauex all night. Newman finished with 81 yards rushing and 124 yards passing with a TD pass and one interception, that coming in the final minute of play. Robichauex finished with 49 yards on 16 runs with a fumble.
Both Dancy and McMillon ran for over 100 yards in the game with McMillon getting 131 and Dancy 112. It was the first time two running backs went over 100 yards in the same game against the Glenwood defense.
On the defensive side, senior Scott Anderson led the way with 14 total tackles including one for a loss and junior BJ Snellgrove was right behind with 13.
“It was not a good night but tomorrow we can breathe again and I expect us to compete again for a title next year,” Gibson finalized.
Daryl Monn held the AISA state runner-up trophy for the Glenwood team picture after the game and walked with it to the stands for the Gator faithful to see that the Gators made it to the title game, despite coming up short.
“This has been a sad occasion and a joyful (one) at the same time,” said an emotional Monn following the Gators 49-22 loss to the Rebels in the AISA state title contest.
“In all my years of playing sports, no matter what including football this is the first time I have ever competed for a state championship,” Monn said after the game. “We wanted a better outcome especially for the seniors.”
“This is a group of guys I would go to war with,” he added.
After a slow start in the regular season, Monn was a scoring standout in the playoffs. That was indicated near the second half of the year as he had two games of scoring multiple touchdowns. Then the playoffs began.
“He was a one-man scoring show for us at crunch time,” said Gibson after the game with Bessemer. “I feel he is a legit college player for someone.”
Monn’s stats through the regular season were solid if not spectacular as he rushed for 448 yards caught four passes for 34 more yards and scored eight touchdowns with a two-point conversion.
But it was the playoffs when Monn did his damage. In the three games of the playoffs he had 217 yards rushing along with seven touchdowns and another two-point conversion to tie Robichauex for team honors in scoring touchdowns with 15.
In addition to the offensive stats, Monn played defense where he was credited with 47 stops and an interception for the Glenwood.
“He did whatever we ask him to do, play offense, defense, and returning kicks. He just wanted to play,” said Gibson of his senior back.