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Glenwood will go from one big-time contest against Bessemer Academy Friday night at home to another important game for the Gator program as Coach Jason Gibson’s charges will have to play Escambia Academy there tomorrow night.
The Gators, ranked No. 3 in the polls prior August 21, made the first important step when they defeated the 2019 class AAA champions with a 37-25 victory over the previously ranked No. 2 Rebels at Sammy Howard Field. Now the Gators will face Escambia, the defending Class AA state title holders who are ranked No. 4 in AISA.
Coach Gibson has always said that to “To be the best, you have to beat the best teams.”
The Gators opened the Bessemer game with new players but a similar offense as last year—a running quarterback who would throw if needed. This season it was Jackson Griner, who had an outstanding game rushing the ball despite a lost fumble. Griner finished with an unofficial 229 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Kye Robichaux, who was hampered by injuries in 2019 and did not carry the ball against Bessemer in the 2019 title game, also did his share of the heavy lifting as he had 184 yards and another touchdown.
“I have to say that our offensive line, anchored by center Will Boatner, did the job tonight,” Gibson said. “Two weeks ago, I was not sure where we would be but these guys came together and did an outstanding job against a good team.”
Two plays were important factors in changing the outcome of the game for the Gators at home.
The first was an outstanding stop by the defense on a third-and-10 on the 23-yard line as the Rebels had pulled to within five points at 23-18. The Gator defense stuffed Bessemer’s outstanding running back Jarvis Dancy for no gain and forced a punt.
The Gator offense took exactly two plays to score with Griner weaving his way through the Rebel defense for a 41-yard score, and the lead jumped to 30-18.
Griner could have been the goat for Glenwood as he fumbled after a 50-yard run and Bessemer recovered the ball and drove for the score that cut the lead to five in the third quarter. But Griner was not finished with Bessemer. After the scoring run, Griner intercepted the Rebels PJ McDonald with a one-handed grab near midfield and four plays later in the fourth quarter, scored his third TD of the game to make it 37-18.
That stop by the Gator defense and the interception by Griner turned the emotion toward Glenwood’s side of the field and played an important factor in the win.
“That was really a great individual effort by No. 9,” Bessemer coach Josh Wright said, after the game.
McDonald, who was one bright spot on offense for the Rebels, threw his third TD pass of the game in the fourth for the final total. The Bessemer quarterback threw for 258 yards with the three TDs and one pickoff and also ran for the other score on a two-yard plunge.
“I’m speechless,” Gibson said, after the game. “I just want to enjoy this win to-night.”
Gibson did add that, “These guys (Bessemer) have had our number lately and this win was a big one for our program moving forward.”
The game’s completion was delayed when Bessemer’s Landon Harville suffered a concussion in the final two minutes of the game and was taken away in an ambulance. However, Bessemer Coach Wright reported to Gibson and the press, after the game, that Harville was okay but was being taken to the hospital as a precautionary move.
Following the road game with Escambia, the Gators will return home for their first region game. That game will be against arch-rival Lee-Scott at Sammy Howard Field on Sept. 4.