E.A. Sports Today

Saks finds a way

Class 4A playoffs: Wildcats put together the drive to win in the final minute; Jacksonville falls on the road

Saks coach Jonathan Miller reminds his players of the dangers of not being focused or paying attention to detail. (File photo by B.J. Franklin)

By East Alabama Sports Today

The burgers, fries and drinks just taste a little better after each win this time of year, even if you don’t play particularly well in getting the win.

The Saks coaching staff has developed this tradition the last two years of going to the nearby Burger King for a meal after every game. It became another happy meal Friday night after the Wildcats digested Dora 31-24 in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs.

“It’s better when we play good,” Miller said shortly after arriving back in the office with his food. “But in the playoffs I will take any win, so going to Burger King was definitely great tonight.”

The win advances the Wildcats to host region rival Cherokee County (6-6) in the quarterfinals this coming Friday. They blasted the Warriors 45-0 earlier this season, a game Miller insisted “will have no bearing” on this next meeting.

It was a bit of a struggle. The Wildcats (12-0), the last undefeated team in 4A, fell behind early, were tied with five minutes to go and scored the game-winning touchdown on JaDarris Griffin’s run on third-and-goal with 54 seconds to play.

Dora took early leads of 3-0 and 10-2. Saks tied at it 10 and then took the lead at 17-10 before the Bulldogs retied it. The Wildcats had a 24-17 halftime lead.

Saks had chances to extend the lead and probably put it away in the third quarter. They were inside the red zone twice in the quarter and came away empty-handed both times, including a fourth-and-goal from the 1.

The Bulldogs (9-3) tied the game in the fourth quarter with just under five minutes to play. Saks then proceeded to drive for Griffin’s go-ahead score.

“When we needed a drive after they tied it our kids responded and I was proud of them for that,” Miller said. “We didn’t play good most of the night, but when we had to have a drive we picked ourselves up off the mat and drove the ball down the field and scored.”

But the Wildcats weren’t out of the woods yet. Dora completed two passes in the closing seconds to get to the Saks 25 before it ran out of time.

“I told our kids what I wasn’t happy with last week was our focus and attention to detail at practice,” Miller said. “I know a lot of coaches say that, but we were extremely sloppy during the week and we were all a little concerned about this one because of that.

“I just hope that it got their attention. We won and that’s great, we’re moving on, but I hope it got their attention.”

Fayette County 32, Jacksonville 16

FAYETTE – When the Fayette County Tigers struck Friday night they struck quickly and stopped Jacksonville in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs.

The Tigers (10-2) had three touchdown “drives” that lasted less than 20 seconds and another of less than two minutes. Their game-opening scoring drive lasted 1:34 and quarterback Chance Stevenson threw a pair of long touchdown passes to Darius Nalls on drives that last 18 and 11 seconds.

Their only quick strike was only five seconds after the Tigers blocked a punt.

The Golden Eagles led briefly in the game after Macey Carr’s 1-yard run and Preston Harvey’s extra point gave them a 7-6 lead with 2:47 left in the first quarter.

Carr was a workhorse in his final high school game. He rushed for 154 yards on 28 carries. Jakobie Calloway caught eight passes for 81 yards.

Josh Glass led the Jacksonville defense with eight tackles. Omarion Adams had six tackles, including one for loss.

The loss snapped the Golden Eagles’ eight-game winning streak after they had opened the season 0-3. It was the fourth time in the last five years Jacksonville has won eight or more games in a season.

Fayette County 32, Jacksonville 16
Jacksonville 7 0 3 6 — 16
Fayette County 6 12 0 14 — 32

F – Zackary Ingle 3 run (kick blocked), 10:26 1Q
J – Macey Carr 1 run (Preston Harvey kick), 2:47 1Q
F – Darius Nalls 47 pass from Chance Stevenson (pass failed), 7:39 2Q
F – Zackary Ingle 8 run (pass failed), 2:10 Q
J – Preston Harvey 30 FG, 3:13 3Q
F – Darius Nalls 77 pass from Chance Stevenson (Russell Bagwell kick), 9:14 4Q
F – Chance Stevenson 3 run (Russell Bagwell kick), 4:09 4Q
J – Rontarius Wiggins 3 run (no attempt), 0:00 4Q

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