E.A. Sports Today

Saks, Harris overrun Jacksonville

Led by QB, Wildcats run for nearly 400 yards in another big win over former coach

Saks quarterback Devin Harris (6), who backfield mate Calvin Figueroa called "a running back at heart," tries to slip past Jacksonville's Nick Gangwer. (Photos by Greg McWilliams)

Saks quarterback Devin Harris (6), who backfield mate Calvin Figueroa called “a running back at heart,” tries to slip past Jacksonville’s Nick Gangwer. (Photos by Greg McWilliams)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

There’s something about playing against their old coach that brings out the best in the Saks football team under Jonathan Miller.

It has been three years since Clint Smith left the Wildcats for Jacksonville, and the players he left behind haven’t forgotten. Each of the last three years he has returned to play them, they’ve upped their game in a big way.

On Friday, they pinned a third straight one-sided loss on their old coach, this time 36-7 that clinched them the No. 2 seed from Class 4A Region 6 and relegated his team to a first-round playoff game on the road.

In the three years they’ve played since Smith left, Saks has won 36-7, 55-21 and 31-7.

“I love playing my old coaches,” Wildcats quarterback Devin Harris said. “When we play Jacksonville we already know all of our coaches went (there) so we always want to beat them. When we play them, it’s our best week of practice. We always want to beat them. When we beat them we just feel good about ourselves.”

Saks beat them up pretty good Friday. The Wildcats rolled up 397 yards of offense – all on the ground. Harris was the ringleader, going for 245 yards and four touchdowns. Running back Calvin Figueroa had 129 yards.

“They were faster than us, they were more physical than us and they got off to such a great start and we never recovered,” Smith said. “We just never could get anything going. They beat us in every phase of the game tonight.”

Miller downplayed the revenge aspect, saying Friday’s effort was more a product of last week’s loss to Cleburne County that denied the Wildcats the region championship.

“We just wanted to get back … to Saks football and execute on both sides of the ball and play better,” he said.

Saying he ran “a lot harder than I’ve been doing recently,” Harris scored on runs of 6, 4, 60 and 6 yards. Demetrius Powell scored the Wildcats’ other touchdown on a 14-yard run.

Harris was just a freshmen in Smith’s final season at Saks, but he saw the potential in him even then.

“Devin’s a good athlete,” he said. “He’s very fast and elusive and he just played well tonight.”

The Wildcats had their way running the ball and Jacksonville couldn’t run it. The Golden Eagles had 116 yards rushing, and 64 of it came on two plays in the fourth quarter.

They did avoid being shut out when quarterback Quen Veasley ran 10 yards for a touchdown with 4:10 to play.

Jacksonville (8-2, 5-2) 0 0 0 7 — 7
Saks (8-1, 6-1) 8 14 8 6 — 36

S – Devin Harris 6 run (Demetrius Powell run)
S – Harris 4 run (Powell run)
S – Powell 14 run (run failed)
S – Harris 60 run (Harris run)
S – Harris 6 run (kick failed)
J – Quen Veasley 10 run (PAT kick)

Jacksonville's Niko Richmond (13) gets bottled up by the Saks defense.

Jacksonville’s Niko Richmond (13) gets bottled up by the Saks defense.

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