E.A. Sports Today

Saks falls in 2 OTs

Wildcats make ‘too many mistakes to win’ in first-round playoff loss to West Limestone

West Limestone quarterback Reed Blankenship runs for yardage as Saks' Demario Burnett (52) tries to chase him down. On the cover Blankenship is trying to escape the grasp of a Saks tackler. (Photos by Ocala Honeycutt)

West Limestone quarterback Reed Blankenship runs for yardage as Saks’ Demario Burnett (52) tries to chase him down. On the cover Blankenship is trying to escape the grasp of a Saks tackler. (Photos by Ocala Honeycutt)

Thursday’s Calhoun County scores

Alexandria 41, West Point 21
Brooks 35, Jacksonville 21
Lauderdale County 22, Wellborn 7
Madison Academy 56, Weaver 21
Piedmont 34, Lexington 0
Russellville 10, Anniston 7
West Limestone 42, Saks 36 (2 OT)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

When Saks coach Jonathan Miller rewinds the film of Thursday night’s playoff loss to West Limestone, he will see enough mistakes and missed opportunities to keep any team from winning a game.

When West Limestone coach Jordan Cantrell looks at the same film, he’ll see a team that rose above the doubters to win a game that had him completely turned around.

The two Wildcats needed more than four quarters to settle their Class 4A opening-round playoff game. Ultimately, West Limestone quarterback Reed Blankenship burst up the middle on the first play of his team’s second overtime possession to give the Region 8 No. 3 a 42-36 victory.

The things fifth-ranked Saks (8-3) will remember most about the game is all the chances that got away. In the third quarter alone it got in the red zone twice and it was only a fourth-and-20 prayer to the back of the end zone that allowed them to salvage any points from the situation.

The other time, West Limestone blocked a field goal and Blakenship scored on the next offensive snap on a 51-yard run.

In addition to missed chances, Saks was mired in 108 yards in penalties, none bigger at the time than a flag for being offside on the first extra point of overtime that allowed West Limestone to go for – and convert – a two-point conversion.

“To be honest with you, we made so many mistakes during the game,” Miller said. “(There were) a lot of mental mistakes. We just didn’t get the job done. We played poorly tonight a lot of the time. Our kids played hard, but we made too many mistakes to win.”

With the exception of the second quarter when West Limestone (8-3) beat triple coverage to score the tying touchdown on the last play of the first half, the teams traded touchdown on ensuing possessions the whole game.

In the first overtime, Blankenship hit Coleton Smith on a fourth-down 4-yard pass for the advantage. That’s where Saks was called offside on the PAT, giving West Limestone the chance to go for 2, which Blankenship coverted with a run.

Saks had to match to continue the game, and it did quickly with Calvin Figueroa scoring on the first snap and then adding the conversion.

Saks got the ball first in the second overtime and everyone figured it was going to be Figueroa, a 2,000-yard rusher, getting the ball until the Wildcats scored.

The first play went to Demetrius Powell for no gain and then Figueroa for seven. The key play was on third down from the 3 when quarterback Quin Smith fielded a low snap and was thrown for a loss. West Limestone then stacked up Figueroa on fourth down.

“You can’t make those mistakes and … beat good teams in the playoffs,” Miller said. “We just didn’t get the job done. There were probably five or six plays that determined the game and I don’t know that we made any of them.’

Blakenship went right up the middle on West Limestone’s first snap to win the game.

“Let me get my bearings,” Cantrell said as reporters approached him immediately after the game. “We just won a playoff game.”

It was significant because the Wildcats had won only one since 1988. Once the situation settled, Cantrell bragged on the type of team he brought into Calhoun County.

Blakenship and Chase Lancaster were involved on both sides of the ball. Blakenship finished with 138 yards rushing on 31 carries, while Lancaster had 60 yards on 17 carries and threw the touchdown pass to Blakenship at the end of the half. For Saks, Figueroa finished with 145 yards rushing on 27 carries and Powell had 103 yards on 16 carries.

“A lot of people said up north we don’t have tough 4A football and I think we proved tonight we do have true, tough great football up north,” he said. “A lot of people want to point out one player of ours (Blakenship); we’re not going to do that. We’re going to point out the entire football team. It was a team effort.

“They’re ballers, but guess what, we have 40 other ballers, too. When we get off the bus people doubt us. We might not be the biggest, we might not be the most athletic, but we love to pound tail.”

It should be noted, West Limestone started its training camp with competitive overtime drills and it paid off in the first playoff game Thursday night.

“I forgot about that, but it did help,” Blakenship said. “We used to stroke each other every day. It went until somebody won. If we kept on scoring, it was until somebody stopped them. We were victorious today; that’s all that matters.”

Bruising Saks running back Calvin Figueroa tries to get past West Limestone defender Coleton Smith during Thursday night's 4A playoff game. Figueroa rushed for more than 2,100 yards this season. (Photo by Ocala Honeycutt)

Bruising Saks running back Calvin Figueroa tries to get past West Limestone defender Coleton Smith during Thursday night’s 4A playoff game. Figueroa rushed for more than 2,100 yards this season. (Photo by Ocala Honeycutt)

West Limestone 42, Saks 36

West Limestone 7 7 7 7 8 6 — 42
Saks 7 7 7 7 8 0 — 36

W – Chase Lancaster 13 run (Reed Walker kick), 6:10 1Q
S – Demetrius Powell 50 run (Anthony Cornejo kick), 4:55 1Q
S – Calvin Figueroa 3 run (Cornejo kick), 11:28 2Q
W – Reed Blankenship 15 pass from Lancaster (Walker kick), 0:00 2Q
W – Blankenship 51 run (Walker kick), 5:07 3Q
S – Tramarian Huguley 26 pass from Quin Smith (Cornejo kick), 1:08 3Q
W – Nick Freeman 55 run (Walker kick), 11:21 4Q
S – Smith 5 run (Cornejo kick), 10:24 4Q
W – Coleton Smith 4 pass from Blankenship (Blankenship run), OT
S – Figueroa 10 run (Figueroa run), OT
W – Blankenship 10 run (no PAT attempted), OT

Team stats WL Sak
First downs 21 17
Rushes-yds 49-212 51-254
C-A-I 6-16-0 9-10-0
Passing yds 57 132
Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-1
Punts-avg 6-37.0 4-33.0
Penalties-yds 2-10 11-108

Saks quarterback Quin Smith (4) looks for running room while being pursued by West Limestone's Cody Shedd (44) and Tanner Walker. (Photo by Ocala Honeycutt)

Saks quarterback Quin Smith (4) looks for running room while being pursued by West Limestone’s Cody Shedd (44) and Tanner Walker. (Photo by Ocala Honeycutt)



You must be logged in to post a comment Login