E.A. Sports Today

First Ginn win

In Todd they trust; new Ginn legacy at Alexandria begins with 18-14 victory

Nate McCallum gave Alexandria some tough yards as its lead back, especially in the second half. He scored the Valley Cubs’ go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter. (All photos by B.J. Franklin)

To view an East Alabama Sports Today photo gallery from the game visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

TALLADEGA — Todd Ginn admitted he was never more nervous going into a game in his life, whether as a player, coach (in basketball or football) or a fan.

There was a lot to Alexandria’s season opener Thursday. It was the first game of the year in Week Zero when nobody knows anything about anybody. It was Ginn’s first game as a head football coach. It was also his first game as head football coach for the school his father became a legend.

The opponent wasn’t shabby, either.

Ultimately, Ginn continued the family legacy on a positive note, leading the Valley Cubs to an 18-14 come-from-behind victory over Talladega.

“I was so nervous and the reason I get so nervous is because there’s nothing I can do,” Ginn said. “Once the game got started I felt like I was back in my element.”

In the end, the Cubs won the game with a toughness that would have made Todd’s Hall of Fame father proud and could become a trademark of the team going forward.

The Cubs didn’t take their first lead of the new Ginn era until Nate McCallum scored on a 6-yard run with 19.7 seconds left in the third quarter.

Every tough yard the Cubs needed in the second half McCallum delivered. He had 79 yards rushing in the game, 64 in the second half.

Humorously, the public address announcer, working off the roster he was given, identified McCallum all game as Javais McGhee, a freshman defensive back. But by the end of the night everyone in the stadium knew who No. 26 was.

For his part, McCallum said he heard it and it was “fun,” but it wasn’t about him. It was all about the Valley Cubs.

The game didn’t start off well for the Cubs. They fell behind 14-6, giving up a long touchdown pass to Nigel Scales and a long touchdown run by Michael McGregor, and they fumbled away a chance to get the tying score inside the 10 late in the second quarter. But after that they were as sharp as ever.

They held the Tigers to three first downs, 27 net yards and out of the end zone the rest of the game. In the second half Talladega had no first downs and managed only 13 net yards on nine offensive plays.

“Dad used to say all the time if you play great and lose or you play terrible and win you’re going to feel a lot better,” Ginn said. “I can promise y’all I’m going to sleep good tonight.”

There were games last year when the Cubs didn’t throw a pass, but they showed a bit of a passing game this night. Jacob Wells was 6-of-8 for 94 yards. His 30-yard pass to Jared Ponder, who outjumped two Tigers defenders for the ball, was the big play in their go-ahead touchdown drive.

“My role is getting a little bigger, I like it really, but I’m a senior, I need to step up more, need to make some bigger plays, lead on the field better,” Wells said. “Of course it makes me feel good, but as long as we win I really don’t care if I throw once or one million times.”

Wells and Romeo Dye scored Alexandria’s other touchdowns.

Todd Ginn was hired as head coach in the summer to succeed Frank Tucker, who succeeded Ginn’s dad and coached for 11 seasons. Alexandria has had only four head coaches since 1948.

Larry Ginn won his first game as Alexandria’s head coach, too; that team beat Jacksonville 34-7 in 1986. Larry went on to win 195 football games, 11 region titles and two state championships in 21 seasons.

“I cannot wait til next Friday night when we get to play at our place (against Jacksonville),” Todd said.

Romeo Dye (22) dives into the end zone for Alexandria’s second touchdown of the game.

Alexandria 18, Talladega 14

Game statistics
Category Alex Tall
First downs 19 7
Rushes-yds 52-176 10-61
Passes 6-8-1 12-23-0
Passing yds 96 172
Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0
Punts-avg 3-43.7 4-37.3
Penalties-yds 4-20 8-75

Scoring summary
Alexandria 6 6 6 0 – 18
Talladega 14 0 0 0 – 14

T – JQ Wilson 60 pass from Nigel Scales (Onique Deer kick), 5:38 1Q
A – Jacob Wells 10 run (kick failed), 51.9 1Q
T – Michael McGregor 50 run (Onique Deer kick), 34.1 1Q
A – Romeo Dye 3 run (run failed), 7:23 2Q
A – Nate McCallum 6 run (pass failed), 19.7 3Q

Alexandria quarterback Jacob Wells (11) completed six of eight passes for 96 yards. His 30-yard pass to Jared Ponder in the third quarter was the big play in the Valley Cubs’ go-ahead touchdown drive.

On the cover: Todd Ginn walks onto the field to get ready for his first game as Alexandria’s head football coach.

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