On the first play from scrimmage against Spain Park on Friday night, Stanhope Elmore quarterback Brandon Wilson and running back Byran Brower fumbled the exchange, and the Jaguars recovered.
Stanhope also fumbled on its next possession. And again on another possession inside the Spain Park 20. And again in the second half. And then added an interception for good measure.
“We turned it over enough to lose three ballgames,” Mustangs head coach Jeff Foshee said.
They certainly turned it over enough to lose one game and a region.
Spain Park (7-1, 6-0) picked up a 34-22 win, and with it, the Jaguars wrapped up the Class 6A, Region 4 title — the first region title in school history.
“This was a big one for this school and this program,” Spain Park head coach Chip Lindsey said. “We know we didn’t get (Stanhope’s) best game tonight. They made a ton of mistakes. But that’s a good football team. When you can come in here and get a win, no matter how you get it, you take it.”
While the Mustangs (6-2, 4-2) were in a giving mood, Spain Park certainly did its share of taking.
The Jaguars stuffed the Stanhope offense in the second half, allowing the Mustangs only 81 yards of offense and four first downs prior to Spain Park stretching it to a three-score lead with 2:30 left in the game.
In the meantime, Spain Park quarterback Nick Mullens was having a nice day. He completed 20 of 35 passes for 241 yards and four TDs.
“You can’t beat an average team with the mistakes we made tonight,” Foshee said. “Spain Park isn’t an average team. Give them credit for playing a good game, but we shot ourselves in the foot over and over again. We struggled at times, and they did a good job defensively against us, but we killed ourselves with mistakes.”
And they started early. Spain Park had four offensive drives before Stanhope really had one.
The Jaguars got the ball first and punted. Stanhope fumbled.
Mullens threw an interception that Willie Ezell returned 99 yards for the opening score of the game.
Spain Park got the ball and punted after three plays. Stanhope return man Roger Young fumbled the punt.
Spain Park scored to tie the game.
“That really hurt us, because it put our defense out there too much early,” Foshee said. “That’s already a fast-paced offense that’s trying to wear you out. Ball control and taking care of the football is so important against a team like that, and we didn’t do it.”
The Mustangs took one more lead, when Kenterris Tyre went in from 6 yards out to put Stanhope up 15-7 with five minutes left in the first half. It was all Spain Park from there.
Mullens threw TD passes of 3, 20 and 6 yards and Otis Harris scored on a 14-yard run before Stanhope scored on a Wilson-to-Young pass play with a minute to play.