By Alex Headley
Earnest Robinson couldn’t be stopped in Pinson Valley High School’s match against Briarwood Christian Academy. Robinson has been in double and triple coverage all season but he blew past the defense to score two touchdowns, catch 12 passes and tally up 221 yards.
A senior this season, Robinson is preparing to play for Auburn University next year. He committed to the Tigers last season, his junior year.
“I feel pretty good,” he said. “Blocking is key to running our routes better; I’ve been working blocking skills.”
Robinson is trying to up his short-pass game.
“Even on low passes, you still have to catch it,” Robinson said. “I’m really working on catching skills now.”
The team’s head coach, Matt Glover was proud of the performance.
“He had a great game, he finally played the way he is supposed to be playing,” Glover said. “He and Nick had a great game. Hopefully that will carry into the playoffs, we need them big time.”
The Indians beat the Lions 46 to 21.
“We finally came out offensively and started clicking,” Glover said.
Robinson wasn’t the only factor in the win. Nick Gibson ran the ball hard for the Indians, accounting for the ground game most of the night. Quarterback Brooks Garrett had his biggest passing game this season, completing 27 of 42 passes for 242-yards and three touchdowns.
“I had a lot more confidence going into tonight,” Garrett said. “They made some great catches that helped a lot.”
Senior linebacker Zach Cunningham got in on the scoring action as well.
“I feel pretty good,” Cunningham said. “I didn’t as much as I wanted on defense but I feel that the offense made up for it.”
Cunningham has received a great deal of attention from colleges in the past week, landing his first SEC offer from The University of Tennessee. He has offers from other schools around the state, including UAB, South Alabama, Samford and Troy.
“I’m keeping my options open,” Cunningham said.
According to Glover, Cunningham wants to play for the University of Alabama.
“They are looking at him now, Saban is taking a look,” Glover said. “Zack is the best football player in the state. I really believe it. He is very consistent and gets the job done. I think more and more offers will come in as soon as people know what they are missing.”
Cunningham had two touchdowns, three sacks and 11 tackles. This is a big win for the seniors on the team, their first win over Briarwood having lost to the Lions for three consecutive years.
The Indians opened the game strong, forcing the Lions to go three and out. Cunningham’s first sack of the night played a key role in the early stop. Five minutes in, Garrett found Robinson in the endzone on a 16-yard pass, putting the Indians up 7-0. The Lion’s answered back by forcing the Indians to punt deep in their own territory. The kick was blocked and Briarwood scored their first touchdown as a result, tying the game.
Nick Gibson rushed 11-yards just a few moments into the second quarter to score another touchdown for Pinson. The extra point failed leaving the score 13 to 7.
Briarwood took the lead for the first and only time of the night after a long drive ended with a short rush into the endzone making the score 13 to 14 in the Lions’ favor.
Briarwood wouldn’t keep the lead for long though as a short pass found Robinson for another touchdown catch with just 32 seconds left on the clock. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty brought the extra point kick extra 15-yards back and the attempt failed.
Despite that penalty and another that took a 60 yard touchdown run from senior runningback AJ Freeman earlier in the night, the Indians have improved on their penalties, something that has held the team back all season.
“We are really running for penalties in practice and trying to keep them down,” Glover said
. “We are really trying to hold them accountable.”
However, the special teams suffered throughout the night.
“We have to get special teams fixed,” Glover said. “We had two blocked punts, that’s the first time we’ve had that all year.”
With the score 19 to 14 at the half, Harry Mason scored in the opening moments of the third quarter off an 11-yard pass. Garrett ran the ball in for a two point conversion, making up the lost points.
Cunningham’s second sack of the night wasn’t enough to stop Briarwood from scoring again. With three minutes left in the third quarter the score sat at 27 to 21. Defensive back Colby Wingard forced a fumble on Briarwood’s next possession allowing Gibson to score on a 42-yard rush with the clock at 0. A successful extra point put the Indians up 34 to 21.
Pinson’s defense kept up the pressure, Mondino Gibson intercepted a long pass in the opening moments of the final quarter, bringing the ball to the Lion’s 20-yard line and setting up Cunningham for his first touchdown of the night. After holding Briarwood from another scoring drive, Cunningham found the endzone again to put the game at its final score of 46 to 21.
Pinson Valley will now move on to the first round of the playoffs. The Indians will host Pleasant Grove High School at home. Both teams have a 7-3 record.
“They are a good football team,” Glover said. “Our kids will be ready. I hope everyone comes out and supports us.”
Looking forward to the playoffs, Robinson said the team was ready.
“We have to get our mind set,” Robinson said. “We can’t get a big head.”
Garrett is looking forward to the playoffs as well.
“The first season is done with, now we have a whole new one,” Garrett said. “We want to go 5-0.”