Arab coach Lee Ozmint was highly disappointed after his team fell 7-3 to 6A, Region 7 Scottsboro at Trammell Stadium last Friday night, but he was guarded in his comments.
That’s because he believed his team played hard enough to win. Three turnovers killed drives, including one that started near midfield on first-and-10 with two minutes left that stopped Arab’s final push before it even started.
It was that way all night, it seemed, and tempers on the Arab sideline flared out of frustration as the clock wound down.
All second half, Arab was just one lousy TD away from taking the lead and the defense appeared more than capable of protecting that lead. But the big play never happened. A big region win on the road was there for the taking, but the Knights never could grab it.
No wonder everybody on the visitors sideline was frustrated.
But instead of harping on mistakes, turnovers and dropped passes, Ozmint took a different path. Fully aware that four more big region games are still to be played, including one at home tomorrow night against Southside-Gadsden, Ozmint accentuated the positive.
“We found a way to lose the game,” Ozmint said, “but I can tell you, nobody quit. We had fight in them until the very end. It was a valiant effort on the road.
“The effort was there. If we can get that kind of effort the rest of the way, the execution will catch up. Now, we’ve just got to find a way to win a football game rather than losing it.”
Arab fell to 0-2 in Region 7 games and 1-3 overall. Scottsboro is 1-1 and 1-2.
Arab’s offense actually looked good at times as sophomore Aidan Cox, making his second varsity start, again showed growth and improvement, especially after halftime.
He directed two second-half drives into Scottsboro territory but the first one was stopped because of a fumble and the second one ended when a Scottsboro defender outfought an Arab receiver for an interception at the goal line with just under six minutes to play.
Scottsboro, with QB Jacob Manning making one big run after another, worked the ball out to near midfield before the Knights finally made a stop to force a punt. Arab got a huge break when a bad snap from center forced Manning to run for the first down rather than punt, and he was stopped near midfield.
Two minutes-plus remained and Arab still needed just the one TD. But Cox was pressured on a first-down pass play and he lost control of the ball while scrambling. Scottsboro recovered and Arab was out of timeouts, and that was the ballgame.
Manning himself also proved to be highly frustrating for the Knights’ sideline. Seemingly the Wildcats’ lone offensive threat, Manning still was able to get crucial first downs despite the defense keying on him. He finished with 151 yards rushing on 36 carries. He was 2-of-6 passing for 6 yards.
Manning led Scottsboro to its only TD with 10:49 left in the second quarter when he scored on a 1-yard run to complete a very methodical 14-play, 60-yard drive.
Arab’s offense moved the ball and appeared headed for a tying TD late in the second quarter. But after reaching the Scottsboro 13, the Knights had to settle for a Gavin Currier 28-yard field goal with 1:08 left in the half.
The game was quite a contrast from last year’s shootout at Arab, when the team’s combined for 1,044 total yards, 46 first downs and a series-high 98 combined points in a 56-42 Scottsboro victory. This season, the teams combined for 393 total yards, 24 first downs and 10 points, the ninth lowest scoring game in series history, according to the Jackson County Sentinel.
Southside won its first three games before running into a buzzsaw at home against Region 7 favorite Oxford last week, losing 56-0. Before that, the Panthers defeated Lincoln 40-27; Hokes Bluff 21-14; and Pell City 22-17.
• He’s still several more weeks away from possibly playing, but Arab’s starting quarterback in the preseason is at least off crutches now.
James Ed Johnson, a junior, limped out of the Knights’ locker room Tuesday in a walking cast. He reported he could put pressure on his injured leg with little discomfort and that it felt much better than in recent weeks.
Johnson was in line to be Arab’s starting QB until he broke a bone in his foot on the first official day in pads. An examination the following week revealed a second break in another bone near the original injury, further delaying the start of his rehab.
• For the second straight week, the Arab junior varsity team avenged a loss by the varsity team. The JV Knights defeated Scottsboro 14-0 on the road Monday night after the varsity lost to Scottsboro 7-3 last Friday night.
Quarterback Gabe Norton connected with Dakota NeSmith on a 30-yard TD strike for one of the Knights’ scores. Dylan Morrow scored on a 2-yard run for the other.
Last week, the JV Knights blanked Fort Payne 14-0 after the varsity Knights fell to the Wildcats 28-7.