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Saks head coach Jonathan Miller roams the sidelines before a recent game. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)

WEAVER — Challenge accepted.

After what Saks head coach Jonathan Miller called “our worst half of football this year by far,” the top-ranked Wildcats exploded in the third quarter and cruised to a 30-7 win over Weaver on Friday.

The Wildcats scored 23 points in the third quarter and finished with 231 total yards in the second half after gaining only 60 during the first two quarters. Weaver led 7-0 at the half after Jadon Calhoun found Shamar Spinks over the middle and Spinks sprinted 59 yards for a touchdown with 1:17 to go in the second quarter.

Miller challenged his team in the locker room and the Wildcats responded in a big way.

“They just needed a little wake-up call and we gave them one,” Miller said. “More so than anything, we challenged them to come out and play with heart, passion on every play.”

Saks scored on its first three drives of the second half. Tony Hunley got the Wildcats on the board with a 1-yard touchdown run. A 49-yard pass from Daveon Dukes to Zay Elston set up Dukes 22-yard touchdown run. T.J. Gibbs capped the third-quarter barrage with a 6-yard touchdown run.

Saks defense did its part in the second half as well, holding Weaver to zero yards of total offense.

What to know

—Both teams were without their starting quarterbacks as Saks’ Rio Torres and Weaver’s Robert Gaines sat out with injuries. Dukes finished with 32 rushing yards on 13 carries. He completed 3 of 7 passes for 79 yards. Calhoun completed 6 of 10 passes for 75 yards.

—The Wildcats forced three turnovers on the night. Caleb Ogle recovered two fumbles and Elston had an interception. Saks got a safety during the third quarter after Gibbs sacked Calhoun and the ball squirted out of the back of the end zone.

—Weaver did a good job of containing Johnathon Cobb until the fourth quarter. Cobb broke off a 72-yard before going down at the 1-yard line. He punched the ball into the end zone on the next play.

Who said

—Miller on the first half: “We had a unique week in that we had so many guys banged up. We had a few guys that played tonight that didn’t practice a whole lot. I figured we were going to be sloppy, but we were entirely too sloppy in the first half. We played our worst half of football this year by far. It’s not even close. I’m proud of the way we came back in the second half and played.”

—Miller on Ogle: “That kid plays with a lot of heart. He’s intelligent. I can talk football to him and he understands. That’s the type of guy I want to go to war with. He’s had an excellent season so far. He’s one of our best football players.”

Next up

—Saks improved to 7-0, including 5-0 in Class 3A, Region 6. The Wildcats host Randolph County next week. Weaver (4-3, 2-3) travels to Glencoe.

Sports Copy Chief Jared Gravette: 256-235-3572. On Twitter: @Jared_Gravette.

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