SPANISH FORT, Ala. – The Toros scored first and last with the final difference in their favor Friday night against a very good Opelika team and will advance to the Class 6A championship. Spanish Fort coach Ben Blackmon said he expected Super-7 caliber performance by his players.
“We are a championship caliber team,” he said. “That’s a championship team on the other side, too. Hats off to Opelika. They’ve had a great season.”
After finishing the regular season at 5-4 and clinching the fourth seed in a deep Region 1 field, he told his players they have what it takes to make it to the state-championship at Jordan-Hare Stadium, but it wouldn’t be easy.
“I’m excited to have another week with these kids,” Blackmon added. “They are fighters. But for us to go through the South bracket, knock off two No. 1 seeds and make it to Auburn is amazing. Nobody expected us to be here. Our guys battled, fought through adversity. I’m just proud of my guys. It’s surreal. ”
The Toros charged out of the gate and went 84 yards in three plays from scrimmage to take an early 7-0 lead on Johnny Morris’ 19-yard touchdown run and Tanner Keesee‘s extra point. Kris Abrams-Draine then broke away from the Bulldogs defense on a bootleg for a 16-yard TD-run to put Spanish Fort up 14-0 late in the first quarter.
But the Bulldogs answered in the second quarter. Eric Watts scored on a 1-yard run and quarterback Brody Davis had a 7-yard TD run to tie the score at 14-14. Marshall Meyers then added a 36-yard field goal with 2.3 seconds left in the first half and OHS led at the break 17-14. On their first drive of the third quarter, Watts capped a 64-yard drive with a 13-yard TD run to extend the Bulldogs’ lead to 24-14.
After a nice kickoff return by Tre Vaughn Reed and a big run by Chico Hixon, Abrams-Draine broke away on a keeper for a 61-yard touchdown. The extra point was just wide, but the Toros had closed the Opelika lead to 24-20 which held until the final five minutes of the game.
With 4:51 to go, Abrams-Draine sprinted 67 yards to reclaim the lead for the Toros. Spanish Fort managed the clock well until facing a tough fourth-and-1 situation at the 38 of OPS with 43 seconds in regulation. Showing a possible quick-kick formation, Abrams-Draine sprinted for the chains where the ball was spotted just over the first-down spot. Opelika coach Erik Speakman called for an instant-replay review of the spot, but the officials’ first-down call was upheld.
Abrams-Draine, an Ole Miss commit who shifted from wide receiver to quarterback after two games this year, ran for three touchdowns in lifting Spanish Fort to the dramatic 27-24, come-from-behind win over the Bulldogs in the Class 6A semifinals.
Blackmon said Abrams-Draine, an Ole Miss commit, is a game changer and the best player in the state. “Everyone should know that. He’s the best player in the state of Alabama. We’re going to put the ball in his hands.”
In the North semifinal, Oxford’s Yellow Jackets defeated defending 6A champion Pinson Valley 31-28. The Toros (9-4) and the Yellow Jackets (13-1) will meet at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium Friday (Dec. 6) in the Class 6A state championship game. Kick off is set for 7 p.m. The Toros advanced to the title round after road wins at Dothan and Wetumpka then a home-field quarter-final win over Park Crossing and the and semi-final victory over OPS.