E.A. Sports Today

Leeds leaves Cubs behind

Green Wave controls the clock, grabs five takeaways, handles Alexandria to set up showdown next week with Moody

St. Clair County0-70-4

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Alexandria football coach Todd Ginn looked across the Lou Scales Stadium pitch and saw something familiar.

He saw a team in green that looked a lot like what the Valley Cubs used to be.

Second-ranked Leeds controlled the ball, moved the chains on crucial downs and grabbed five takeaways with good, solid defense in handling the inexperienced Valley Cubs 23-7 Friday night.

“That team is different than a lot of other teams we play,” Ginn said. “They’re going to control the ball, they’re going to power it at you, and they’re going to take a lot of time off the clock. They’re a lot like what we used to be, before Javais (McGhee) and the read stuff, wide open stuff. They play good defense and then control the ball with eight-, nine-minute drives.

“They’ve got the things you need to have a good football team. They don’t have to do anything special to have a good football team. The last couple years we hadn’t had to do anything special. We had size, we had speed, we had the things you needed. This year we’re inexperienced a little bit, we have to take some chances.”

The Green Wave held the ball for a few seconds over 30 minutes by primarily keeping it on the ground. The rushed for 219 yards as a team on 42 carries. And you could tell what they were going to do depending on who was at quarterback. 

If it were Conner Nelson you expected they were going to run. If it were Jarod Latta, they most likely were going to pass. Nelson rushed for 106 yards and both of Leeds’ touchdowns, but Jeremiah Hunter ran it 15 times for 55 yards, too, and Latta picked up 36 yards on the ground.

The winners’ other points came on three Jackson Arthur field goals.

“We felt like we could run the football, that’s kind of what we’re known for,” Green Wave coach Jerry Hood said. “That’s just kind of the way we are. We want to possess the ball and play great defense when we get out there. Unbelievable job holding that team to seven. That’s a great job.”

The Valley Cubs scored their only touchdown in the final 30 seconds of the first quarter when TK Downie got behind the Leeds defense on fourth down and Ty Barker found him for a 35-yard touchdown. Unfortunately, the Valley Cubs didn’t have their best receiver much after that once he was helped to the locker room following a jarring tackle.

And they could have used him on the play that really broke their backs. The Cubs trailed 20-7 at halftime and they really needed to score on their opening possession of third quarter to stay in the game. They were moving that way and got inside the 10, but the drive was thwarted by a third-down interception over the middle at the goal line. The Green Wave had three picks in the game.

“Anybody sitting here watching that game knew we had to have a touchdown there because they were controlling the line of scrimmage,” Ginn said. “They’re going to control the line of scrimmage against a lot of folks.”

Latta and Nelson brought the Green Wave back downfield, eating up most of the eight minutes that remained in the quarter, and then capped it with another Arthur field goal. But they were the only points Leeds got in the half.

“I was really pleased with the way we played the second half,” Ginn said. “Defensively we made a change and I thought we played a lot better the second half.”

The result of the game up Leeds and Moody playing for 1 and 2 in the region next week while Alexandria hosts Southside in its final regular season home game for the 3 and 4.

“We’re gonna enjoy this, got about an hour drive back home, probably eat some barbeque or something and then we’ll get to work on a great team,” Hood said. “This time of year every game is big and every team is quality. Moody is a quality team, were just going to do the best we can, like we always do.

“This is the win that you need to have. If you don’t win this, now you’re fighting uphill because Moody is a great team and then Lincoln’s that type of team they have great athletes and you’re in danger any time you play a good team like them. We’ve looked at Moody a lot. We’ll just do the best we can. They’ve accumulated a great team.”

LEEDS (23)ALEX (7)
151st Downs10
82Passing yds73
Leeds (7-0, 4-0)101030 —23
Alexandria (3-4, 3-2)7000 —7

L — Conner Nelson 4 run (Jackson Arthur kick), 7:56 1Q
L — Jackson Arthur 31 FG, 5:16 1Q
A — TK Downie 35 pass from Ty Barker (Cleat Forrest kick), 0:25 1Q
L — Jackson Arthur 31 FG, 5:45 2Q
L — Conner Nelson 20 run (Jackson Arthur kick), 2:32 2Q
L — Jackson Arthur 36 FG, 0:17 3Q

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