By Joe Crowe, for The Tribune
GARDENDALE — The Clay-Chalkville Cougars mauled their opposition as the Gardendale Rockets fell apart on the launchpad Friday night.
This battle of 6A region 6 schools at Gardendale’s Driver Stadium was Clay-Chalkville’s first league game of the season, and everything appeared to go right for the away team. On the other side, the Gardendale Rockets were unable to put any score on the board during their first game on their new artificial turf field.
In the first quarter alone, the Cougars racked up 16 points, including a pair of 2-point conversions. Wide receiver Jaylen Mbakwe made a 13-yard reception that put the score at 16.
In the second quarter, with under a minute left, Clay-Chalkville completed a pass for another score, and then a third two-point conversion brought the game to 24-0 at halftime.
The best thing that can be said for Gardendale in the second half is that the team held Clay-Chalkville scoreless … for about four minutes, then QB Khalib Johnson completed a 4-yard pass to Deion Gunn for a touchdown, followed by yet another conversion, pushing the score to 32-0.
The Cougars rushed for another TD as the fourth quarter began, and hit 40. With fewer than two minutes remaining in the game, the Cougars kept rushing forward, literally, as another rushing TD put the game’s final score at 46-0.
Johnson teamed up with running back Ed Osley for 314 offensive yards. Cam’ron Williams relieved Osley with six carries for 21 yards.
Mbakwe made three total catches that resulted in two touchdowns, with scores on a 13-yard reception and a 43-yard reception.
“It was a good team win. I’m really proud of how they played,” said head coach Drew Gilmer. “They played really good on all three aspects of the game: the defense play was extraordinary. They did a really good job tackling and putting them behind the chains all night offensively. That was really the key for us.”
The Cougars scored on every two-point conversion attempt except one. Gilmer said, “A little luck never hurts.”
The Rockets’ loss brought the team to 2-2 on the season, with zero wins in region play.
The Cougars are 4-0 on the season and 2-0 in 6A play.
Gilmer looked ahead to Sept. 17’s regional contest, as the Cougars hit the road to Adamsville to take on Minor High School’s Tigers.
“We’ve got a good team in Minor coming in next week. In a short turnaround, we’ve got to get ready for Minor coming in with another big region game. Then after that, we have a little bye week and get ready for the second half of the season,” Gilmer said.