By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Editor-in-chief
VACUUM – It was a unique evening in the history of Oak Mountain and Spain Park, and a player from each school’s first women’s football team will always be remembered, as the Eagles and Jags opened the sport’s first season on Tuesday September 28.
The two teams, alongside Vestavia Hills, faced off in a match to kick off the historic 2021 season, with all three teams winning one match.
Spain Park lost their opener at Vestavia Hills, while Oak Mountain opened the season with a win over the Rebels.
This led to a clash between the Jaguars hosts and the Eagles to end the special night, and it ended in style when Spain Park scored in the last minute to break a 6-6 tie and win 13- 6 for the team. first victory of the season.
In the season opener, Spain Park hosted Vestavia and got off to a good start with two first-half touchdowns.
The Jags scored on a touchdown pass from Emily Stricklin to Lillian Gourley – a duo who have been strong all night – as well as a touchdown run from Stricklin.
Vestavia Hills, however, tied Spain Park’s opening two scores with a touchdown and then the Rebels were able to score with two minutes left in the half to tie the game 12-12 at the break.
The Rebels took advantage of the change in momentum and got off to a good start in the second half.
In their first half-time practice, the Rebels clocked a 55-yard run after breaking through a group of defensemen without pulling the flag. A game later, they finished practice with a touchdown and converted the play to a run to take a 19-12 advantage with 18:10 to go.
Spain Park’s defense played well the rest of the way, providing attacking opportunities on a comeback, but the Jags were never able to convert the opportunities into points, leading to the 19-12 loss.
Vestavia Hills carried that momentum into the Oak Mountain game soon after, but it was the Eagles who came out determined in their opener of the season.
Nine minutes into the game, Sarah Jacobik of Oak Mountain started her impressive night with a 60-yard touchdown to give the Eagles a 6-0 lead.
Oak Mountain took the lead in the half after a strong defense in the first 20 minutes of the game.
Then, early in the second half, the Eagles continued their impressive game defensively as they forced a turnaround to give the ball back to the Oak Mountain offense.
After a sack, Victoria Hood then hit Bailee Walker 25 yards to put the Eagles in a first-and-goal situation. It didn’t take long for Hood to hit Jennings Sinclair for a 3-yard touchdown pass to make it 12-0.
Vestavia Hills had the opportunity to come back late, but the Eagles played big game after big game.
Jacobik had an interception deep into Oak Mountain territory on the drive that followed, as the Eagles forced a punt on the next defensive set and caught an interception on the final defensive set to put the play on. resting.
This led to a county battle between the Eagles and the Jaguars, which went to the wire to close an exciting evening.
Spain Park came out looking to bounce back from their opening loss, and the Jags got off to a good start in their first practice.
Stricklin hit Gourley for another big 23-yard pass, which quickly set up a 2-yard touchdown run from Stricklin a few plays later for a 6-0 lead.
With a rejuvenated effort defensively, this became enough for Spain Park to take the lead at half-time.
Oak Mountain’s offense couldn’t find the same pace as before and either kicked a punt or had a turnaround in every first-half practice.
The Eagles, however, were able to continue playing solid defense themselves after the first try, which saw them drop just six points heading into the second half.
The first four combined practices between the two teams in the second half ended in turnovers. Oak Mountain returned him on the downs on each of their first two discs, while the Jags threw two interceptions.
The second of those Eagles interceptions became key.
This led to a long workout which was sparked off by Hood’s 2-yard run on fourth inches.
This was followed by a dominant remainder of Jacobik’s race. She ran for 16 yards, 7 yards in straight plays to establish the first and goal from the 17-yard line with 6:25 left.
A game later, Jacobik had an impressive last run, making a clear cut to his left and sprinting 17 yards to the end zone to tie the game 6-6 with 4:50 to go.
But Spain Park came back with a huge response in the final four minutes.
The Jaguars quickly faced the fourth and 11 on their own 29-yard line, but they had a response when Stricklin hit Kaitlyn Bellanca for 28 yards and a first down.
Shortly thereafter, on the first and goal from the 13-yard line, Stricklin and Gourley connected one last time on an 8-yard touchdown that ultimately became the game-winner for the Jags in a 13- 6.
Oak Mountain recovered the ball with 48 seconds left but was unable to move the ball as time expired to end the night.
Each team won one game on opening night and all three games were decided by two scores or less.