Sparkman 24, Austin 21 Final | Friday - October 4, 2019 | Class 7A, Region 4 Game
#2 QB Nick Sawyer (Sparkman) - with a 4-yard touchdown run versus Austin
HARVEST, Alabama -- A well timed forced turnover and a late touchdown scramble gave Sparkman a 24-21 win over Austin in a big Class 7A, Region 4 game. With the win, Sparkman stays undefeated in the region with James Clemens while looking for a big showdown with the Jets later in the season.
Sparkman down four points with a little over three minutes left in the game, Senators safety Khalil Griffin forced a Austin fumble and defensive lineman Ty Clemens recovered the loose football and set up the Sparkman offense deep inside Black Bears territory.
A few plays later and with 1:33 left in the game, quarterback Nick Sawyer scrambled and found running back Tavion Rupert on the game winning 10-yard touchdown pass play for the Senators. With the score, Sparkman led 24-21 late but Austin still had hope as they only needed a field goal for the tie, but two plays later safety Reese Stogner picked off a Black Bears pass and secured the win for the Senators. "Everyone just bit on me and I found the open man," said Senators QB Sawyer. "I just made the open play like I'm supposed to. Tavion told me to watch the check down so I knew he going to be in the end zone."
Sparkman (6-0, 4-0) trailed 14-10 at the half, but didn't let it affect them in the second half. "We talked about eliminating big plays, stopping the big plays and we were hit with one right off the bat," said Sparkman head coach Laron White. "We talk about adversity and our kids came back. They worked hard, did their best and won against a good football team. Nick made an instintive play in the end. Kept his feet moving and I'm very proud of him."
Austin (5-1, 3-1) scored first in the game when Tybo Williams scored on a 2-yard touchdown run and with 10:16 left in the first quarter, the Black Bears led 7-0. With 3:33 left in the first quarter, the Black Bears defense scored on a Jaylon Barrett 75-yard pick six. Barrett took the interception in the middle of the field then cut left down the sideline and raced for the touchdown. With the score, Austin led 14-0 late in the first quarter and they were looking good.
Sparkman took the assuing kickoff and drove deep into Austin territory but a Barrett interception wided out the scoring opportunity for the Senators and the Barrett had his second interception of the game. With 3:03 left in the first half, Sawyer scored on a 49-yard strike up the middle and turned on the burners to out race the Black Bears defense to put the Senators on the scoreboard. With the touchdown, Austin led 14-7 late in the second quarter.
With 1:00 left in the half, Miles Tillman drilled a 46-yard field goal to cut the Austin lead to 14-10 going into halftime. With 8:40 left in the third quarter, Sparkman took their first lead of the game on a Sawyer 4-yard touchdown run around the right end. With the score, the Senators led 17-14. The drive went 70-yards on 10 plays.
On the Austin next possession, they responded and scored on a Williams 2-yard touchdown run on a fourth down play. With the Black Bears touchdown, they led 21-17 late in the third quarter. “We had a lot of opportunities to take control of the game and didn’t,” Austin head coach Jeremy Perkins said. “Hats off to Sparkman. This is a big win for them.”
With 5:52 left in the game, Sparkman connected on a long Saywer to Cam Foley pass on third down that gave the Senators life deep in Black Bears territory. Late in the game, Sparkman had a 4th and one on the Austin 1-yard line but the Black Bears defense held and Austin kept their 21-17 lead late in the game.
So with Austin taking over on downs, Austin drove out of their own end zone a few plays before the big turnover happened on a third down that gave life to the Senators late in the game. Again, Sparkman scores and takes the lead and the Senators get the interception to close out the game. "I saw the ball come right to me," said Senators safety Stogner. "I knew I had to secure the ball for my team. This keeps our undefeated season alive and our hopes for the playoffs."
The Sparkman defense was huge in the second half. "This was a huge win for our team, my brothers" said Senators safety Griffin. "Just the next step though where we want to be."
“That’s a tough loss, but we’ve got to get over it and get better,” said Perkins said. “We’ve got another big area game next week.”
Up next for both teams, Austin hosts Huntsville for homecoming while Sparkman will travel to Bob Jones.