E.A. Sports Today

Weaver edges Wellborn

Bearcats score winning points on play more reserved for basketball and a familiar conversion

Amardric Elston (L) uses his height advantage to go over Wellborn’s Calvin Spinks for the fourth-quarter touchdown that set up Weaver for the win. (Photo by Greg Warren)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

WEAVER – The play looked more like something the two players would cook up on the basketball court than the gridiron and the winning points came on something that looked familiar, too.

Robert Gaines took advantage of a size mismatch in the end zone to float a 3-yard touchdown pass to Amardric Elston with 2:20 to play and then ran in the two-point conversion to lift Weaver over Wellborn 30-29 in the Class 3A Region 6 opener for both teams.

The touchdown “most definitely” looked like something quarterback Gaines and Elston might connect with on the basketball floor, Elston agreed. Gaines rolled out on the third-down play and then floated the ball to the 6-foot-5 Elston, who had a good foot of height on Wellborn defender Calvin Spinks in the back corner of the end zone.

The go-ahead two-point conversion that followed had a familiar bent to it as well. It was the same play the Bearcats ran to cap their wild comeback over Plainview in the opening round of last year’s playoffs – ironically, also a 30-29 score – only this time instead of throwing it to Shamar Spinks for the points, Gaines saw an opening and ran it.

“It was a no-brainer,” Weaver coach Daryl Hamby said. “You’re putting it in a spot where only he can get it and nobody else. It’s just a matter of numbers; you’re talking about 6-6 versus probably 5-5. Throw it up to him, he’s a great receiver; Amardric has great hands. It’s a jump ball; you’re talking about a guy who can wrap his whole hand around that football. I feel very confident in Robert putting it in the right spot. (On the conversion), I wanted to put it in the seniors hands and that play involves four seniors.”

Up to that point it was Spinks’ legs the Bearcats rode to their winning touchdown. The speedster covered the first 59 yards of the drive on six carries, breaking off consecutive runs of 27, 11 and 11 yards to get to the 5. He finished with 205 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries.

Once they got down deep Gaines had all the confidence Elston was going to make the grab.

“I knew he was going to catch it,” he said. “It’s too easy for him.”

After taking the lead, the Bearcats’ defense denied Wellborn any chance to strike back. They applied a heavy rush on all four plays the Panthers had with Isaiah Woods scoring a sack on first down then teaming with Caleb Allison for another on third down and finally Shamar Spinks intercepting a desperation fourth down pass at midfield.

“Isaiah really stepped up from the first half and made big plays,” Elston said.

Wellborn took a 29-22 lead with 6:20 to play when Kentrez Hunt broke a tie with his third touchdown of the game on a 5-yard run. Logan Brooks hit the extra point after getting backed up by a penalty to make it a seven-point game.

The Panthers, trying to go 3-0 for the first time since 2012, dominated the first half. They moved into Weaver territory on five of their six possessions but led only 14-7 at halftime.

They also led 22-15 with less than four minutes left in the third quarter and looked like they had the Bearcats completely winded going into the fourth quarter.

“They played their guts out,” Wellborn coach Jeff Smith said.

Even Hamby admitted his team was lucky to have come away with the victory.

Two of Wellborn’s first three scores were highlighted by long passes from Jett Smith to Logan Hill. The first one covered 74 yards and the second 40; both touchdowns – by Hunt – came on the snaps following the pass.

“The reason we’ve moved Jett to quarterback is because the stuff we can do with him seems like it’s endless,” Jeff Smith said. “He’s just got a lot of potential of running and throwing, that dual threat guy we need.”

Weaver 30, Wellborn 29

Team stats Well Weav
First downs 16 11
Rushes-yds 49-180 34-206
Passes 2-5-1 2-11-0
Passing yds 114 50
Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-0
Punts-avg 3-29.7 3-29.3
Penalties-yds 5-39 15-120

Scoring summary
Wellborn 14 0 8 7 – 29
Weaver 7 0 15 8 – 30

Well – Kentrez Hunt 2 run (kick failed), 10:00 1Q
Weav – Shamar Spinks 12 run (Jadon Calhoun kick), 7:43 1Q
Well – Jett Smith 2 run (Kentrez Hunt run), 4:08 1Q
Weav – Shamar Spinks 10 run (Davontae Hilliard pass from Robert Gaines), 10:34 3Q
Well – Kentrez Hunt 5 run (Bailey Neely pass from Jett Smith), 3:55 3Q
Weav – Shamar Spinks 7 run (Jadon Calhoun kick), 2:47 3Q
Well – Kentrez Hunt 5 run (Logan Brooks kick), 6:20 4Q
Weav – Amardric Elston 3 pass from Robert Gaines (Robert Gaines run), 2:20 4Q

Weaver’s Drake Monroe (1) tries to get hold of Wellborn’s Kentrez Hunt. Hunt scored three touchdowns for the Panthers. (Photo by Greg Warren)

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