MADISON, Alabama - The Mountain Brook Spartans used a stingy defense for most of the game and defeated 7A James Clemens 18-13 in a non-region game at Madison City Schools Stadium Thursday night. The Mountain Brook defense only gave up one score on the night and came up big at the end of the game to preserve the win for the Spartans.
Mountain Brook (1-1) led throughout the game but couldn't shake James Clemens, as both teams had chances in the red zone but fell short a few times each. "If our whole team would grow as much as our defense has, then we would be something pretty special," said Spartans head coach Chris Yeager. "I can't believe how much the defense grew in just seven days. That is a good football team. Great night for the defense. We had some opportunities we missed out on, and great teams don't do that. Great teams capitalize on opportunities."
The Spartans scored first in the game on a special teams play. With 10:16 left in the first quarter, Parker Rogers blocked a punt for a safety, and the Spartans took an early 2-0 lead. With Mountain Brook driving again, a John Cooper pass in the flats to Clark Sanderson drove the ball deep into Jets territory. Three plays later, with 8:01 left in the first quarter, Cole Gamble scored on the run off tackle on a 7-yard touchdown run. With the score, the Spartans took a 9-0 lead.
After James Clemens took over the ball and two plays later, Drew Widener picked off a Jets pass deep in James Clemens territory, and the Spartans were ready to increase the Spartans lead. With 6:59 left in the first quarter, Harrison Fells kicked a 21-yard field goal. With the score, Mountain Brook led 12-0 in the game's first five minutes and it was all Mountain Brook early in the game.
Early in the second quarter, the Spartans defense came through again, with the Jets driving. On a third down play, Clyde Beavers interception in the middle of the field turned away a good Jets scoring opportuntiy. Three plays later, though, the Spartans had to punt on a fourth down play. With only :54 left in the half, Ty Daughty made the special teams play of the night. Daughty caught the punt at the 41-yard line, outraced the Spartans punt team in the middle of the field, and then cut it outside to outrace everyone for the end zone. With the touchdown, Mountain Brook still led 12-7 at halftime.
To start the second half, Mountain Brook moved the ball again. On a third down play around midfield, Cooper hit Sanderson deep on a pass, and Sanderson took it down to the three-yard line. Two plays later, Gamble scored on a 3-yard run, and Mountain Brook took an 18-7 lead with 10:05 left in the third quarter. "They have an outstanding defensive team," said Spartans running back Gamble. "We shot ourselves in the foot with these penalties and missed assignments. We did better than last week, so we have much to grow and learn from. We had some good energy to start the game. We had much to discuss as a team after our loss last week. We still have things to fix, but we played better tonight than last week."
After the Spartans score, James Clemens drove the field but was held short on a fourth down play at the Spartans 24-yard line, and Mountain Brook took over on offense in the middle of the third quarter.
The Spartans offense turned it back to James Clemens on a Brody Stinson interception, putting the Jets offense in good field position. With only :31 seconds left in the third quarter, Marsh connected with Logan Eggart on a 20-yard touchdown play, and the Jets only trailed 18-13 with one quarter left in the game.
After the Jets touchdown, the Spartans raced back down the field. A Cooper to Hudson Young reception moved the ball into Jets territory. A few Gamble runs took the ball deep into Jets territory, and the Spartans set for a field goal attempt. With less than five minutes left in the game, 6-foot-6 Jaylen Brown blocked the field goal and gave the ball back to James Clemens late in the fourth quarter.
A few plays later, Jets tight end Eggart made another big reception to keep the Jets drive alive late in the game, but four plays later, the Spartans defense forced a fourth down stop and had the ball back late. The Spartans moved the ball down inside the red zone, but a holding call called back an apparent Gamble touchdown, and on a fourth down play, the Spartans' pass was incomplete in the end zone, and the Jets had one last gasp with just over one minute left in the game with zero time outs.
After a few short completions, Spartans defensive back Hampton King intercepted the Jets pass to seal the win for Mountain Brook. "All week, we have been preaching to each other to play as a team," said Spartans linebacker William Grier McDuffie. "We just put it all together and fed off each other and got it done. This gives us confidence to keep going and doing what we are doing."
Next for both teams, Mountain Brook will travel to Minor, and James Clemens will host Huntsville.