Story, Photos by Scott Nickerson, EAN Sports
The defense is undoubtedly the strength of the Stanhope Elmore High Mustangs football team two weeks into the 2020 season. But for the second week in a row, when the Mustangs’ defense needed a stop on a 3rd and long late in the 4th quarter to get the ball back to their offense for a potential game winning drive, the defense gave up a first down rush to seal the win for the visitors.
Last week, with Opelika leading by three points, the Bulldogs faced a 3rd and 9 with three minutes left, and were able to get 14 yards on a quarterback draw. This week, with Prattville leading 16-10, the Lions faced a 3rd and 11 with under two minutes left, and were able to get 12 yards on a run up the middle. The Lions were able to run out the remainder of the clock and move to 2-0 on the year with the 16-10 victory.
The opportunity to come away with a win did not look likely at halftime, when the Lions held a seemingly commanding 16-0 lead. After Prattville’s 42-0 win last season at Stanley-Jensen Stadium, the Lions came out strong again in the 1st half, and looked close to putting away the Mustangs early.
Prattville got on the board in the 1st quarter, with kicker Collin Rogers hitting a 34-yard field goal to put the Lions up 3-0.
The Lions recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff return, and took over possession at the Stanhope Elmore 34-yard line. Threatening to put more points on the Board, defensive end William Whitlow batted down a pass from Prattville quarterback EJ Ousley on 2nd down, and on the following play, Whitlow sacked Ousley for a 10-yard loss to push the Lions out of field goal range.
Neither offense was able to get anything going until almost midway through the 2nd quarter, when Prattville running back Albert Taggert broke free for a 62-yard rush to move the ball inside the Mustangs’ 20-yard line. On the next play, Prattville running back Keondre Powell rushed for a 16-yard touchdown, and the Lions led 10-0.
The Mustangs hoped to be able to get to the locker room trailing by 10, but the Lions got the ball back before the half and went for another score. Ousley got hot for the Lions, connecting on five of six passes for 53 yards, to include a 15-yard touchdown pass to receiver Jack Hallman. The Lions 2-point conversation attempt failed, but they still held a 16-0 lead at halftime.
Prattville got the ball first in the 3rd quarter and looked ready to put the game away when Taggert broke free for another long run, this time gaining 51-yards and moving the ball deep into Mustangs’ territory. The Stanhope Elmore High defense held firm, and pushed the Lions back, and were able to get the ball back to their offense.
To switch things up, Teddy Harris moved from receiver to quarterback for a few plays, and ran a Wildcat package at quarterback, rushing several times and finally picking up a much needed first down. After a timeout, Tre Killingsworth moved back to quarterback, and attempted a deep pass for Harris. The Prattville defender tackled Harris before the ball arrived, giving the Mustangs another 15-yards. At that point, the Lions’ defense buckled down, refusing to allow the Mustangs in the end zone. Freshman kicker Jacob Bryant hit a 37-yard field goal to put the Mustangs on the board with three minutes left in the 3rd quarter.
Both offenses went stretches without putting any points on the board, until the Mustangs got the ball back at midfield with under five minutes left in the game. The Mustangs finally picked up the big offensive play that had been eluding them all night when Killingsworth connected with Harris on a beautiful deep sideline pass down to the Prattville 2-yard line. On the next play, Killingsworth ran up the middle for a two-yard touchdown. The extra point cut the Prattville lead to 16-10.
With just over two minutes remaining, Prattville had the ball and Stanhope Elmore had two timeouts left. All the Lions needed was one first down to run out the clock and win the game, but after two plays lost one yard, all the Mustangs needed to do was prevent the Lions from picking up 11 yards and they would get the ball back.
The Lions got 12 yards, and ran out the clock to win the game, 16-10.
Ousley threw for 95 yards for the Lions with one touchdown. Prattville’s running backs teamed up for a good 1-2 punch, with Taggert getting over 100 yards, and Powell rushing for more than 50 yards and one touchdown.
For the Mustangs, Killingsworth threw for 84 yards and ran for one touchdown. Starting running back Antonio Trone was out for the game, and the Mustangs had a tough time rushing against a stingy Prattville defense. Harris was able to rush for 44 yards on seven carries. He also had four receptions for 59 yards, and even completed a 35-yard pass to receiver Jackson Thomas.
Both teams will play big region games next week, with Prattville, ranked #7 in Class 7A, traveling to Auburn to take on the Tigers, ranked #5 in Class 7A. Auburn is 2-0 this year, and has beaten Prattville six years in a row.
Stanhope Elmore High will host Benjamin Russell. Last year’s victory over the Wildcats turned around the Mustangs’ season, as they won six in a row and finished as the runner-up in the region. See more photos below!