By Johnny Sanders
SPRINGVILLE – The Springville Tigers welcomed cross-town rivals the Moody Blue Devils on Friday night to Tiger Stadium in a region game that would see Moody jump out to a big lead before Springville began to find some footing on offense and give the Blue Devils a bit of a scare before eventually getting the 11-point win.
Moody started the game on offense and the first drive of the game set the tone for a spectacular night by Blue Devil quarterback Charlie Johnston. The junior gunslinger would go five of six for 60 yards in the drive with his final pass being a 17-yard strike to his favorite target, KD Barnes. The failed PAT would make it 6-0 Moody with 7:29 to play in the opening quarter.
Springville would go three-and-out and punt the ball back to Johnston and the Blue Devils. This time the drive would end on a ten-yard touchdown run by Blaine Burke after Johnston found Barnes on a 41-yard bomb to get the ball deep into Tiger territory. Burke would also run in the two-point conversion to make it 14-0 Moody at the 3:34 mark of the first. Before the end of the quarter, Springville would begin to build momentum on offense, crossing midfield.
The Tigers’ momentum would be stopped just past the 50-yard line and they would have to punt. Moody would take over at their own 12-yard line where Johnston would find Barnes for another big gainer, this time 37 yards, but Barnes would cough up the ball and give it back to Springville. The Moody defense held the Tigers to a three-and-out and the punted it back. Johnston would continue his stellar performance on the next drive, finding three different receivers in Barnes, Burke and Brade Wright, who would take a short pass from his quarterback and turn it into a 53-yard touchdown for his Blue Devils, making it 20-0 Moody with 6:37 to play in the half.
If you have watched Springville at all this year, you know that they will work until the final whistle, no matter the score, and they showed that before both teams went into the locker room for halftime. They would take over at the Moody 21 after Barnes fumbled a punt and drive it down to the two-yard line where workhorse running back Mahlon Alverson would punch it in and put Springville on the board with 35 seconds to go in the half. It would be 20-6 Moody heading into the locker room.
Springville would get the ball to start the half, but Moody’s defense would hold them to a punt. After driving it down to Springville’s 36, Johnston would find Barnes on a short pass, but Barnes would cough it up again and the Tigers would pounce on it. Springville would get it to Moody’s 17-yard line but they were unable to punch it in. From there, Springville’s Patrick Williams would split the uprights to close the gap and make it 20-9.
On Moody’s next offensive drive, the deadly combo of Johnston to Barnes struck again, this time for 54 yards to put the ball on the Springville four-yard line. From there, Burke would punch it in and put Moody up 28-9.
Springville would get the ball back and chop away at the Moody defense, moving it all the way to the three-yard line but the Blue Devil defense would hold on fourth down to get the ball back. Moody would do nothing with it and punt it back to the Tigers. Springville would put together the final scoring drive of the game, passing the ball a couple of times to get it to the two where quarterback Jake Conner would punch it in for the Tigers to make it 28-17 Moody and that would be the final.
Charlie Johnston would finish the night 17 of 24 for 332 yards and two touchdowns. Most of that went to KD Barnes who had nine catches for 212 yards and a touchdown. Springville’s Mahlon Alverson would lead all rushers with 43 carries for 106 yards and a touchdown.
Jon Clements said of the game, “We played hard for the most part. Moody showed us some things a little funky on the defensive front in the first half and we had a hard time getting used to it. Hats off to Moody. They did a good job and just beat us tonight. I was a little disappointed that we didn’t come out tonight with more energy and focus. That’s my fault. We got behind and when you get down by two touchdowns, it’s hard to come back with what we do.”
Moving forward, the Tigers are in must-win situations the next two weeks. “It’s a one-game season now. We still have our goals in front of us. For the seniors, the next game is the most important one.”
Mahlon Alverson said, “We first learned the offense, we were iffy about it. We really like it. I tote the ball a lot every game but I couldn’t do it without my linemen. Those guys do a really good job up front and they are amazing people. We will get it together and I think we will get into the playoffs.”
The Tigers, now 2-5, will travel to Lincoln Friday night in a key region matchup that is a must-win for them. Lincoln currently sits at 4-2.
Moody’s Jake Ganus said the following about the Blue Devils’ performance. “I thought we played really hard and did some really good things. This one was similar to Lincoln where we racked up a bunch of yards, had three turnovers which killed momentum. But I was proud of how we responded. Defense played their brains out again. Running that offense, eventually the defense is going to get tired. But I was really proud of them. Probably our worst special teams performance but we have to get better.”
KD Barnes said, “It was fun coming in. It was easy. It’s easy when you’re with people who want you there. When the quarterback and receivers and coaches are pitching in, it makes it easier to learn the offense. Then, when they all love you like family, it’s so much easier to be one of them. This has been an easy experience.” When asked about the fumbles, he said, “They put the ball into my hands. They trusted me and having coaches to trust you after a mistake and put the ball in your hands is a blessing.”
Defensive leader Zane Smith spoke of his defense, “To stop this triple option, you’ve got to do your job and make sure your teammate is doing his. We are just one team. We do everything together. The line gets big pushes and keep their guys off of our linebackers. These young guys, in a few years, they are going to be special.”
Moody heads back to The Bill on Thursday to take on the Saint Clair County Saints in another region game. Saint Clair County is 2-4.