By Johnny Sanders, Sports Editor
SPRINGVILLE – Jon Clements and his staff and players continued a historic 2023 season on Friday night when they finished the regular season with an overtime victory over the Pell City Panthers in a 31-28 fight that guaranteed that the Tigers would not finish the regular season with more losses than wins for the first time since going 5-5 in 2011, long before the Clements era began at Springville.
Springville got on the board first on a Mahlon Alverson touchdown run, which should surprise no one who has been paying attention to the Tigers this season. Springville went for the two-point conversion to make it 8-0 but the Panthers would strike back before the quarter was over. The first period would end with Springville holding a narrow 8-7 lead.
The second quarter belonged to Pell City as the Panthers outscored Springville 10-0 to make it 17-8 heading into the locker room, which could have spelled doom for a team like Springville, who runs the triple option offense which is not built for coming from behind.
Just as the second quarter belonged to Pell City, the third belonged to Springville. Early in the quarter, Caden Williams hit a field goal for the Tigers to make it 17-11. With 1:26 to go in the third, Pell City would line up to punt. The Springville defense would break through and get a hand on it and Kayden Hanrahan would scoop up the live ball and run it 55 yards for a touchdown to make it 18-17.
Hanrahan said, “When I realized what was happening, all I knew was that we needed that touchdown and it was on me to go get it. No one may notice, but it could not have been done without Cole (Tittle, fellow senior linebacker) blocking the punt.”
Alverson would get his second touchdown of the night, this time from six yards out, to extend the Springville lead to 25-18. Pell City would rally back on the next drive and tie it with a touchdown of their own and a two-point conversion. Regulation would end with the game unresolved and a score of 25-25.
The extra period would see Springville’s defense cause Pell City kick a field goal that gave them the 28-25 advantage before Springville had a chance to answer. On the first play, Alverson busted up the middle and got the ball inside the five to set Springville up with first and goal. On third down, Jake Conner attempted to run the ball in but fumbled the ball and it looked like Pell City had it, but the Panther lineman could not hold onto the ball and Conner was able to get it back at the one-yard line. With the game on the line on fourth and goal from the one, Conner handed the ball to Mr. Reliable, Mahlon Alverson, who punched in his third score of the night to seal the win and the 5-5 regular season for the Tigers.
“All I can say is this is the game that we had to fight the most to win,” said Springville’s Jon Clements. “We had to fight from being down 18-7 at halftime. Then having the 17-play drive after half to get the field goal, that was so big. Our defense didn’t have to play. Once they get it, we get the big stop and the punt block, and we changed the game. I was so proud of our kids. The things we work on every day, that they think means nothing, we called it and it worked. Then Kayden made a big play. It was things that we have put in so much time to perfect and it finally made a difference in a game. The offensive line took over in the second half. Our kids found some extra and it showed. That was very cool to see. They did their thing and then Mahlon and Jake were able to get rolling. It was just cool to see.”
Springville finishes the season at 5-5 and a playoff berth that they clinched last week. They will head to Guntersville on Friday in round one.
The team has invited former players to come to a cookout on Thursday evening before the basketball games and they encourage anyone who has ever played football at Springville to come out and celebrate with the team. They will also be leaving from the school at 3:30 pm on Friday and the community is encouraged to come and line up in front of the school to give the boys a proper send-off to Guntersville for the first playoff game since 2009.