“We played better,” said Spring Garden coach Jason Howard. “We played hard, played hard. We had a hard time stopping them but we had a chance to win it.”
Matters won’t be any easier this week as Spring Garden travels to Valley Head (2-0). The Tigers have already defeated Class 1A, Region 7 foes Donoho and Cedar Bluff in their first two games.
“I think they’re probably the best team in the region,” Howard said of Valley Head. “Collinsville’s probably got more athletes than they do but Valley Head is very physical and very, very big.”
On the injury front, there is some good news and some bad news.
“We’re banged up a little bit from the Gaylesville game,” said Howard. “I think Will (Ivey) is going to be back and able to play offense this week but we lost Zach Dobbs. That puts another ninth-grader having to start at center. We’ve got to get through without getting too beat up this week then we should have a chance to compete and have a chance to win some over our next few ball games.”
Against Gaylesville, the Panthers fell behind 7-0 early. Kyle Reece scored on a 24-yard run in the first quarter but the kick failed, leaving the Panthers down 7-6.
The Trojans got the first seven points of the second quarter. Spring Garden knotted the score at 14-all when Matt Mullinax scored on a 46-yard run and freshman quarterback Ben Ivey ran the ball over the goal line for a 2-point conversion.
“Ben played great. He’s about three or four weeks ahead of what I thought he’d be. Going into the year, I already was thinking around Week 4 or Week 5 I might go ahead and put Ben at quarterback and move Will to tailback some. Ben’s progressed, getting thrown into the fire these past two weeks. He’s well ahead of where I thought he’d be,” Howard said.
Before halftime, Mullinax added an 8-yard touchdown run and Hunter Bondie booted the extra point. At intermission, the Panthers held a 21-14 advantage.
After the Trojans forced another tie at 21-all, Spring Garden moved ahead again 28-21. The younger Ivey scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak and Bondie again converted the extra point opportunity.
Mullinax led Spring Garden’s offense with 169 rushing yards. Reece ran for 90 yards. Ivey finished with 64 yards passing and 14 yards rushing. Reece had 50 yards receiving and Chris Holcomb contributed 14 yards through the air.
Linebacker Quintin Downey paced the defense with seven tackles and recovered a fumble.
Dalton Kerr made four tackles. Bondie had two tackles and caused a fumble.