By Ronald Frazier
After Trevor Crisco’s interception in the final minute of play had sealed Glenwood’s upset of Tuscaloosa Academy, the Gator offense that had responded all night against the Knights went into the “victory formation” and ran out the clock last Friday at Sammy Howard field in the Gators’ homecoming contest.
“We quit making mistakes on offense that have killed us all year,” said Glenwood coach Jason Gibson after the contest.
“If we had executed, we could have won the Morgan Academy game and the Deerfield-Windsor game but bad snaps, penalties, and turnovers cost us our chances,” Gibson said.
Going into the game, the Knights were 6-1 overall and 3-0 in Region 1 AAA play, including six of those wins in a row and sat atop first place in the standings. Glenwood was 2-5 and had just won its first region game the week before against Kingwood Christian to be 1-2.
That Kingwood win looks even bigger now as the Lions traveled to Selma on the 12th and defeated the Senators 28-14 to cause a three-way tie for third. Morgan, Glenwood and Kingwood are all now 2-2 in Region 1.
“Tuscaloosa is a good football team. They have playmakers that can score from anywhere on the field and we saw that tonight,” said Gibson.
“Believe you me; we play these guys tight every time. Two years ago we won with a TD with no time left on the clock. Last year, they beat us when we missed the extra point and lost by one. We just have close games,” said Gibson of his opponents.
“But tonight we just ran our base offense and we executed plays when we needed to,” Gibson said of his Gator offense.
“We have practiced all these different scenarios as to what to do on down and distance and reads on plays and tonight it clicked,” added Gibson.”Easily this was our most complete game offensively.”
It was such good execution that Glenwood did not punt the entire contest against the Knights and did not have a penalty in the first half and were charged with three total penalties for 15 yards in the game. It also went three for four on 4th down conversions to get key first downs to continue drives.
While Tuscaloosa scored on quick strike long yardage plays, the Gators ground out the clock and scored all but one TD on long drives. The Knights ran only six offensive plays in the fourth period.
The Gators had the ball 62 percent of the time to the Knights 38 percent for the game. Nothing personified the Gators’ offense more than the winning drive. It was 13 plays covering 73 yards and was culminated on a third and 12 touchdown pass to Ben Bankston of 15 yards for the Gators to go ahead 36-35. Darryl Mons then ran wide for the two point conversion and Glenwood was ahead 38-35 with 1:12 to play.
After the kickoff, the Knight’s Alex Johnson was sacked for an 11-yard loss and on the next play Cisco intercepted Johnson’s pass and Tuscaloosa could only stop the clock twice as the Gators went into their victory formation.
Bryce Valero had his best passing game of the 2018 season. He tallied 137 yards by halftime, which was already his biggest passing day and he added 89 more in the second half to give him 226 yards in the air for the game with two touchdown passes and one interception.
He also ran for 62 more yards and another TD. Bankston was the deep threat as he had the first 100-yard receiving day for the Gators in 2018, catching four for 105 yards and two TDs. Valero’s favorite target though was Crisco. He had five catches for 69 yards, all for first downs and also ran the ball four times for 18 more yards.
Mons was the leading ground gainer for the Gators as he had 74 yards on 10 runs scoring two TD’s and a two-point conversion.
The Knights got off to a quick start and scored the first TD of the game on the third offensive play. Johnson found Mayes White open and he went 35 yards for a 7-0 Tuscaloosa lead.
But the Gators responded in a big way. They drove for their first score on a nine-play drive culminated by a Mons four yard run and got the ball right back when Jacob Harper recovered the Glenwood pooch kick at the 30. Valero went in from eight yards out and the Gators were ahead 13-7 at the end of the quarter.
Both teams scored touchdowns in the second quarter to make it 20-14, Glenwood. The Gators got the ball with 3:55 to play in the half and held the ball the entire time. Although they did not score, the Knights did not see the ball again until the second half.
Mons lengthened the Gator lead to 27-14 with his second touchdown run when the Knights offense got hot. Tuscaloosa would score the next three touchdowns of the game and took a 35-27 lead all in the third quarter.
Johnson found Mayes for his second TD pass of 44 yards and Cameron Chambers went 60 yards on a one-play drive. Mayes then stepped in front of Crisco for an interception on the 15 and five plays later Phil McDuff scored his second TD of the game to make it 35-27.
Again the Glenwood methodic offense went back to work and the Gators got a 33-yard field goal to make it 35-30. The Gator defense forced Tuscaloosa on a three and out on the next series and that set the stage for the winning Glenwood drive.
The Gators will end their region schedule with a final home game on Friday against arch-rival Lee Scott.
“Right now that’s our most important game. They are down this year but Coach (Robert) Maddox is a great coach and I expect we will get their best shot no matter what the record is,” Gibson said of next week’s contest.