SAKS — A light sprinkle and slippery grass was a cause for concern Friday night that saw a veteran quarterback get taken out of the game, but allowed a sophomore to step up and prove he can handle the program’s future.
After tearing an ACL last season, Saks’ QB Roilan Torres exited during the first quarter of the Wildcat’s 20-12 loss to Alabama Christian Academy to open up the new season.
“We don’t think it’s serious,” Saks head coach Jonathan Miller said, “but we didn’t want to risk it if it wasn’t 100 percent. … He’s a big part of what we do.”
In his absence, Sean Parnell, who started at linebacker, stepped behind center as the offensive leader.
“It wasn’t planned,” Parnell said. “We knew (Roilan) wasn’t (coming into the game) 100 percent, but I had to step up and do my part.”
Saks opened up scoring with a 40-yard touchdown rush by Rickey Garrett.
Alabama Christian answered Saks on their next drive, pushing the ball all the way down to the Wildcats' 1-yard line, and setting up an easy touchdown by Eagle quarterback Jalen Clark.
Midway through the second quarter, Clark found Thomas Stovall for a 74-yard touchdown reception and a 12-6 lead over Saks. Parnell found receiver Leonta Jones for a 59-yard touchdown on the Wildcats' next drive.
“When I caught the ball, I saw grass,” Jones said. “I made one dude miss, and the next dude dove, so I jumped and the dude behind me couldn't tackle me, so I kept going and scored.”
Midway through the third quarter, ACA’s Clark found Corey Landers for a 29-yard touchdown to put the Eagles in front for good. Clark then found Landers again for a two-point conversion and the game's final points.
Penalties plagued the Wildcats' defense Friday night, giving up over 48 free yards to Eagles and helping them jump start stalled drives.
“It’s frustrating to have stopped some body and then jump offsides,” Parnell said.
Miller said the team "shot themselves in the foot," and allowed ACA to capitalize on the Wildcats’ missed opportunities.
“We gave them so many opportunities just to continue drives,” Miller said. “We shot ourselves in the foot all night defensively.”
What to know
—Garrett accumulated 49 yards on the ground to lead the Wildcats.
—Alabama Christian quarterback Jalen Clark led his team with 66 rushing yards.
—Of his backup quarterback, Miller said: “I thought Sean Parnell came in and played a solid game. He stepped in there and he’s a smart kid. He’s gonna be a good player in the future.”
—Jones on how the penalties are just a byproduct of his team's youthfulness: “We’re a little young right now, but we’re going to get a lot better.”
—Saks hosts the Cleburne County High School Tigers (1-0) next Friday, while Alabama Christian Academy returns home to host Pike County.