By Johnny Sanders, Sports Editor
LINCOLN – The Springville Tigers needed a win over region foe Lincoln on Friday night to give themselves an opportunity to grab the fourth seed in 5A Region 6 and they did just that, jumping out to a big first half lead and then doing enough to seal the 18-point win and draw those playoff hopes closer than they have been in quite some time.
The Tigers came right out of the gate swinging, handing the ball to their workhorse, Mahlon Alverson. Alverson carried the ball seven times for 57 yards on the first drive alone, capped off by a one-yard plunge into the end zone. Jake Conner would run in the two-point conversion and Springville would go up 8-0 with 7:31 to play in the first quarter.
The Springville defense was on another level in the first half, starting with an opening drive in which they held Lincoln to a punt after gaining just 13 yards on the drive. After the punt, Alverson and company would set up shop at their own 22 and they would continue to pound the ball. Alverson would complete the drive with runs of 29 and 26 yards, the latter being a touchdown to put his team up 16-0 with eight seconds left in the first period.
Lincoln would find success on the ground on their next offensive drive with three long runs (21, 23 and 16 yards) to find paydirt and get the Golden Bears on the board and make it 16-6 Tigers at the 11:42 mark of the second quarter. Noel Cox got tired of seeing Alverson have all of the fun, so he decided, on the second play of the next drive, he would simply take a pitch from Conner and take the ball 79 yards to the end zone, making it 22-6 Springville.
The defense would tighten once again and, despite an inadvertent whistle and a phantom pass interference call, the Tigers would get the ball back at their own 38. They would move the ball down to the 21 where Conner would find Cox for a touchdown pass. Yes folks, you read that correctly. Springville would be up 28-6 with just under two minutes to go in the half and the Tigers were feeling good. The defense held once again and a few big runs and a Lincoln personal foul set Patrick Williams up at the ten with just three seconds to go before the break. He punched a field goal through the uprights to put the Springville up 31-6 heading into the locker room.
Lincoln would come out in the third quarter intent on finding some offensive success, which they would do. With 10:06 left in the third, they would find the end zone to tighten the gap at 31-13. Springville would be unable to do much on the next drive and they would end up punting it back to Lincoln. The Golden Bears would start driving again, but at the 17-yard line, they would fumble the ball back to the Tigers who would begin the fourth quarter punting it back to the Golden Bears.
Springville would hold Lincoln on a fourth and three from midfield and the Tigers would drive it once again, this time with the end result being a 21-yard touchdown run by Noel Cox making it 38-13 Springville. Lincoln would get another touchdown on a 30-yard pass with just over four minutes left in the game. They would threaten once again at the end, getting the ball down to the Springville 11, but they fumbled the ball back to the Tigers and Springville ran out the clock.
At halftime, the Tigers had outgained Lincoln 372 to 61. Lincoln made it a bit more interesting and wound up with a total of 335 yards to Springville’s 470.
“We do run the ball every play,” said senior offensive lineman Brodie Ginn. “We showed in this game that you can win and just run the ball. We are old fashioned, down and dirty football. I wouldn’t want to do it with any other group of guys.”
Senior running back Noel Cox, who ended the night with seven carries for 122 yards and two touchdowns to go with his 21-yard touchdown catch, said, “This is huge. I can’t explain it. I couldn’t sleep last night just thinking about it and going through plays in my head. Now we did what we needed to do and we have a chance to get to the playoffs and it is awesome.”
Senior linebacker Kayden Hanrahan said, “The biggest thing is, we haven’t made it to the playoffs in so long at our school. Every senior here just wants it. Being able to be a part of it is amazing. Doing something we haven’t done in a while, it’s just amazing.”
Coach Jon Clements shared his team’s excitement. “Our push all week was to start fast and be physical early. I give a lot of credit to the offensive line and Mahlon Alverson (37 carries for 238 yards and two touchdowns on the night). We lined up in some formations that we haven’t done before and we had to have some receivers line up in the box and do some things they haven’t done. Seth Jones and Reed Wallace did a phenomenal job. Drake Digiacomo did a fantastic job. These guys aren’t the biggest but they have so much heart. Mahlon, I’m proud of what he did tonight. Our coaches did a great job this week. Our defense played great tonight with the exception of a little bit there at the end. We get a week off and then we play St Clair in a rivalry game and it’s a big one. Our fans once again showed up tonight and we will need them to pack it out up at St Clair.”
Springville improves to 3-5 on the season and, with a win against St Clair in two weeks, they will get that fourth seed in the region and make it to the playoffs for the first time since 2009. The Tigers will enjoy a bye week between now and the big showdown against the Saints.