E.A. Sports Today

Opposite directions

Valley Cubs get off the deck to stay unbeaten, keep Golden Eagles winless

Alexandria’s Keenan Woodruff (20) follows lead blocker Larry Smitherman during the first half of their game against Jacksonville. Woodruff had nearly 100 of his 156 rushing yards in the second quarter. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

In an emotionally charged rivalry like Alexandria-Jacksonville one big play early in the game can set the tone for the rest of the night.

By rights, Macey Carr returning the opening kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown should have energized his already jacked Jacksonville teammates and deflated the Valley Cubs and their crowd.

Quite the opposite. The Valley Cubs got off the deck and went on to win in a big way 45-17 Friday night in Lou Scales Stadium. It was the 80th meeting between the rivals.

“That’s just a sign of maturity in these kids,” Alexandria coach Frank Tucker said. “Some years you get down and it kind of whups you mentally, but they came back. You can either tuck your tail or bow up and I thought tonight we bowed up.”

The win left Alexandria 2-0 for just the second time since 2007. The loss dropped Jacksonville to 0-2 for the first time since 2008.

The Golden Eagles won last year’s game 28-14 and had won three of the last four meetings in the series.

Carr brought an electrifying start to a game that needed no additional charge. He waited on the kick at the 15, spun back across the stripe and headed towards the Jacksonville bench. Then he cut up-field at the hash and was gone.

In an instant the Golden Eagles were up 7-0, but the Valley Cubs didn’t drop their heads.

“Yeah, he returned it, but I was telling my teammates it’s the first play of the game, we’ve still got four quarters to go,” junior running back Grayson Chaffin said. “They knew one touchdown the game’s not over.”

The Cubs bounced back from Carr’s initial burst to score 30 of the next 33 points. Chaffin put them in front for good on a 51-yard pass from Jacob Wells and the defense did the rest. They held Jacksonville to a field goal after it got inside the 10, William Hollingsworth forced a fumble that Jaylen Cunningham recovered to squash another possession and Josh Tucker intercepted a pass at the goal line.

The offense, meanwhile, capitalized on the turnovers and the Valley Cubs had a 30-10 lead before Jacksonville scored the first points allowed by Alexandria’s defense this season midway through the fourth quarter.

“We started the game off well, but we gave up too many big plays,” Jacksonville coach Clint Smith said. “We made some mistakes … and we just can’t do that against a good football team like them. It was a hard-fought game, just like any rivalry game would be; we just couldn’t get on the other side of the stick.”

Alexandria stretched its lead in the final five minutes of the game on a 2-yard run by Keenan Woodruff and Romeo Dye’s 48-yard interception return for touchdown.

The game matched two of more prolific backs from the opening week of the season — Woodruff and Carr. Woodruff had the best of it, rushing for 156 yards and one touchdown — and the victory. Carr had 64 yards rushing.

Meanwhile, Sam Shaw and Chaffin each scored two touchdowns for the Valley Cubs. Shaw rushed for only 29 yards, but they were hard, up-the-middle yards, while Chaffin had 84 yards rushing and receiving. Chaffin also ran down Jacksonville’s Jewels Gray after a big gain to save a touchdown midway through the second quarter when the game was still close.

“We didn’t like losing last year,” Chaffin said. “Alexandria football is not about losing. It’s about playing as a team, hard-nosed football, and getting the job done. That’s what we wanted to do.”

Jacksonville’s Jakobie Calloway (9) has the ball knocked loose by Alexandria’s William Hollingsworth in the second quarter Friday. The Valley Cubs recovered the fumble.

[table id=53 /]

Jacksonville (0-2) 7 3 0 7 — 17
Alexandria (2-0) 8 14 8 15 — 45

J – Macey Carr 85 kickoff return (Preston Harvey kick), 11:42 1Q
A – Sam Shaw 11 run (Joe Tucker pass from Jacob Wells), 6:54 1Q
J – Preston Harvey 38 FG, 6:04 2Q
A – Sam Shaw 7 run (pass failed), 4:56 2Q
A – Grayson Chaffin 9 run (Keenan Woodruff run), 10:31 3Q
J – Rontarius Wiggins 10 run (Preston Harvey kick), 7:16 4Q
A – Keenan Woodruff 2 run (Grayson Chaffin pass from Jacob Wells), 4:16 4Q
A – Romeo Dye 48 interception return (Landon Primm kick), 2:33 4Q

Joe Tucker (15) hauls in the two-point conversion that gave Alexandria the lead for good in its rivalry game with Jacksonville Friday night.

On the cover, Alexandria linebacker Sam Shaw (32) brings down Jacksonville’s Tahj Kirkland. To see a gallery of photos from the game visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com and find the game in the football file.

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