By Ronald Frazier
Bessemer Academy outscored Glenwood 16-0 in the third period and used that advantage to take a 37-20 win over the Gators Sept. 7 at Sammy Howard field. The game was the region one AISA class AAA opener for both teams who came into the game with identical 1-2 records.
“They made some defensive adjustments in the second half and we were unable to throw the ball and that was the difference,” said Glenwood coach Jason Gibson after the game.
“Our defense got us back into the game in the first half as we caused some turnovers and took advantage of those. I also thought we were able to move the ball on the ground in the first half,” Gibson continued. “And our defense played well the entire game.”
“Big plays in the return game and a costly turnover in the third took away all our momentum,” he added.
The Gators now go on the road to Selma and face a familiar opponent, region two foe Morgan Academy. The Senators are 3-1 so far this year including a 40-2 win over region one’s Lee Scott.
Glenwood faced the Senators twice last year, winning in Selma but losing in the first round of the AAA state playoffs 21-14 in Phenix City. The Senators are led by returning wingback Hardin Utsey, who scored two TDs against Glenwood in 2017 and halfback Will Ingram. Backup quarterback senior Gunnar Henderson is now the staring QB.
Once again the game on Sept. 7 was played without a scoreboard as the score and time were kept on the field by officials. The 25-second play clocks were all that were used in the contest.
The visiting Rebels led by a single point at halftime, 14-13 thanks to a blocked extra point. The Gators had the ball first to start the second half but had a four and out, giving the ball up on downs as they went for it on a 4th and five and Bryce Valero’s pass to Lawrence Vinson was incomplete.
Four plays later, Bessemer’s Austin Clark broke for a 38-yard rushing score to extend the lead to 21-13. The momentum change came after that Clark touchdown.
Glenwood received the kickoff and were able to pick up a first down when halfback Darrell Monn fumbled and Bessemer’s Tristan King scooped the ball up and ran it in for a TD and extended the lead to 27-13. Later in the third, Jackson Stewart kicked a 26-yard field goal that increased the lead to 30-13and the Rebels were in command.
In the final frame, Bessemer increased the lead to 37-13 when Justin Jones, who had a huge offensive play in the first half, scored on a two-yard run for his second TD. Glenwood scored with the help of backup quarterback Bryce Newman.
“Our second unit deserved a chance and they had their second unit in on defense and our guys responded,” said Gibson.”It was good to see them execute and continue to playing hard.”
Newman came in and completed seven of nine throws late in the fourth period for 43 yards and a touchdown, that coming to Cam Carpenter who was his favorite target. Carpenter caught four passes for 32 yards and the score.
The first half was a see-saw battle that saw the Rebels open up a 14-0 first quarter lead. Jones made the big play for Bessemer when the Rebels decided to go for it on a 4th and three from their own 23. He went wide and broke a tackle and scored on a 77-yard yard run to give Bessemer a 7-0 lead. The Rebels’ Clark scored his first TD to make it 14-0 on a one-yard plunge, also in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Gators went to work and scored 13 unanswered points to get back into the game. Led on defense by Justin Jackson and Randy Bell, the Glenwood defense caused three turnovers that sparked the Gator offense.
After a fumble recovery by the Gators in the third, Randy Bell on his only offensive run, went one yard and scored the first Glenwood touchdown. Another fumble recovery and Bryce Valero sparked the offense with a 21-yard run that made it 14-13.
The Gators got a third turnover by an interception by Will Hyche but time ran out at halftime as Glenwood drove to the 29 as the half expired.