By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
The Coosa Christian Conquerors fell to the Spring Garden Panthers, 42-8, in a Class 1A, Region 6 contest on Friday (Oct. 6) in Gadsden.
The Panthers (5-1, 4-0) set the tone early on as they marched down the field for a 10-play, 58-yard scoring drive to start the game. Running back Weston Kirk scored darted in for a 22-yard touchdown with 7:14 left in the opening quarter to give the Panthers a 6-0 lead.
Coosa (2-5, 1-1) had some success moving the ball on its opening drive of the game, but they were forced to punt. The Panther offense then went to work on another methodical drive. Kirk and fellow running backs Michael Floyd and Luke Welsh led the way down the field and quarterback Luke Ivey hit Welsh on a 15-yard touchdown strike for the second score of the game. The Panthers opted to go for two points after missing the first extra point, and Floyd ran in the conversion to extend the lead to 14-0 with 8:34 remaining in the second quarter.
On Coosa’s next drive, the Panthers forced a fumble on an option pitch and Welsh recovered the ball on the Conqueror 13-yard line. Four plays later, Ivey found Floyd from 10 yards out for a touchdown, and the Panthers converted on another two-point conversion for a 22-0 lead.
The Spring Garden defense forced another punt on Coosa’s next drive, and the Panther offense quickly went to work again. Welsh broke loose for a 46-yard run and followed that up with a nine-yard scamper to the Conqueror 5. Ivey hit Floyd again for another touchdown to give the Panthers a 28-0 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Coosa running back Dartavious Britton was tossed the ball on a lateral from a teammate, and he found a seam and broke loose. It appeared as if Britton was going to return the kick for a touchdown, but he was tackled on the Panther 11. The Conquerors couldn’t get the ball in the end zone and trailed 28-0 heading into halftime.
Spring Garden head coach Jason Howard said that sequence before halftime was the defining moment of the game for his team.
“To me, one of our signature plays of the night was right before the half when Gaines Petty ran the guy down on the kickoff return because they were fixing to get the second half kickoff,” Howard said. “They score right there and then get the kickoff and score and it’s right back to a ball game. He runs him down at the 10, our defense holds and we go in up 28-0. Gaines was 20 yards behind their fastest runner and he ran him down, and to me that was the signature play of the night. “
The third quarter was dominated by penalty flags on both sides, but the Panthers were able to tack on another score on an 8-yard touchdown run from Welsh to give his team a 34-0 lead.
On the following Coosa drive, Petty intercepted a pass to set up the Panther offense with great field position.
On the fifth play of the drive, Welsh broke free again for a 16-yard touchdown run with 10:01 remaining in the game. Spring Garden converted on the two-point attempt and led 42-0.
The Conqueror offense finally got into a rhythm on their final drive of the night. Britton found success on the ground, and quarterback Caiden Lipscomb connected with receiver Jackson Justus twice on the drive, including an 11-yard touchdown with 1:21 remaining in the game. Lipscomb hit Carston Lipscomb for the two-point conversion to bring the score to 42-8.
Britton led Coosa on the ground with 14 carries for 54 yards. Lipscomb completed 10 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown, while Justus caught four passes for 37 yards and a score. Receiver Evan Delp caught three passes for 32 yards on the night.
Welsh led all ball carriers with 120 yards on 13 carries and two touchdowns. He also had one catch for 15 yards and a score. Floyd caught two passes for 15 yards and two touchdowns and chipped in 38 yards on the ground.
Kirk carried the ball 14 times for 89 yards and a touchdown, and receiver Colby Slaton caught two passes for 85 yards. Ivey completed five of his 11 passes for 115 yards and three touchdowns. The Panthers outgained the Conquerors 366 to 139 and held the Coosa offense to negative rushing yards until the final drive of the night.
Coosa head coach Navendra Woods was proud of how his team competed, especially in the second half.
“I knew when I took the job that it was going to be like this, and it’s a process,” Woods said. “So, at the of the day, I’m proud of my kids. They did everything that we asked them to do, but we made a lot of simple mistakes that beat us in this ball game tonight. Spring Garden is a good football team.”
Woods said he wants to see his team play more physically both next week and for the remainder of the season.
The Conquerors take on Cedar Bluff at home this Friday (Oct. 13) in another Region 6 contest.