HUEYTOWN, Alabama -- The Hueytown Golden Gophers took a 3-0 halftime lead into the locker room, but two special teams scores by Clay-Chalkville gave the Cougars a 17-3 win over Hueytown Friday night. The Cougars outscored the Gophers 17-0 in the second half to win the non-region contest.
Both defenses came to play, while the Clay-Chalkville defense has only given up three points in two games. With rain coming down for most of the first half, both defenses had their way, making it hard for most of the night. "I saw us fight, but it was ugly on offense," said Cougars head coach Drew Gilmore. "We had six penalties in the first quarter that put us behind the sticks, and some negative plays, but the defense, I thought, played extraordinary. It kept us in the game. The kicking game was good on the field goal, and we pinned them back a few times in the second half. We won the special teams battle, which won the game for us."
Late in the first quarter, defensive lineman Keith Green picked off a short Cougars pass and put the ball deep into Cougars territory. Four plays later, with :26 seconds left in the first quarter, Diego Torres kicked a 31-yard field goal, and the Gophers took an early 3-0 lead.
With Hueytown driving again midway through the second quarter, a deep pass deflected off a Gophers receiver, and defensive back Xavier Starks took the ball away and gave the ball back to Clay-Chalkville. The Hueytown defense rose to the occasion again and took the ball over around midfield. Hueytown quarterback Jebron Ellington broke off a 20-yard run, giving the Gophers a first down in Cougars territory. A few plays later, the Gophers turned the ball over on downs, and Clay-Chalkville took over the football while running out the first half of play. "We are a dominate squad that works hard together," said Cougars LB Rod Ivy. "Confidence, hard work, teamwork, and we put it together. That has made our defense a special group. We run to the ball everyday in practice and we want to take that on game days."
Hueytown kicked off to Clay-Chalkville to start the second half, and receiver Mario Carver fielded the ball at the 10-yard line and raced 90 yards for a Cougars touchdown. With the score, Clay-Chalkville led 7-3. After the Cougars touchdown, Hueytown moved the football. Ellington broke off another big run, and a pass reception by Noah Armstrong with a 15-yard personal foul call gave the Gophers a first down in Cougar territory. On the next play, the Gophers turn the ball, and again, Clay-Chalkville comes up with another stop. With 8:23 left in the third quarter, Antonio Ellison kicked a 31-yard field goal, giving the Cougars a 10-0 lead midway through the third quarter.
The Cougars drove down the field later, but a field goal attempt was blocked by Hueytown. With the Cougars driving again deep inside Gophers territory. Clay-Chalkville had a fourth down at the Gophers two-yard line, but defensive lineman Green had a tackle in the Clay-Chalkville backfield, and the Cougars turned the ball over again on downs.
Three plays later backed up into their own end zone, Hueytown punted, and receiver Marlon Compton caught the punt at the Hueytown 40-yard line and turned it into a Cougars touchdown. With the score, Clay-Chalkville led 17-3 with 5:33 left in the fourth quarter. "I just saw an open lane," said Cougars WR Compton. "I just wanted to help me team out and get into the end zone."
The Hueytown defense played outstanding in this game. The front four of Green, Kole Caldwell, Jordyn Jackson, and Christian Williams kept Hueytown in the game. The two special team touchdowns were the difference, as both defenses only gave up a field goal. "Our defense was pretty salty to a great team in Clay," said Gophers head coach Greg Patterson. "Special teams let us down again. We will get it put together. We are very inexperienced on offense and we need to find a way to move the football. We better get it fixed before we go to Brookwood. Keith is a special player. He is a heck of player. This guy can play at any level."
Next, Hueytown travels to Brookwood as Clay-Chalkville travels to Pell City to start region play.