One series reason for Sweet victory

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 13, 2004

HOOVER – It would be simple to go through Friday night’s state championship win for Sweet Water and pick a few key plays. Deon Williams sure had a few of them. So did Anthony Landrum.

However, it wasn’t one of three Williams interceptions or one of Landrum’s four touchdowns that made the biggest difference in Sweet Water’s 35-7 thumping of R.A. Hubbard.

Instead, one series of three plays early in Friday night’s game was, ultimately, the reason the Bulldogs walked away from the Hoover Met with the Class 1A state title.

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When R.A. Hubbard won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball in the second half, Sweet Water couldn’t have asked for a better scenario. For starters, that mean the Bulldogs got the chance to loosen up the nerves on offense, where it’s harder to make a mistake.

That first Sweet Water drive lasted 4:03 and it ended with a punt. Obviously, that doesn’t seem like a successful drive, but it didn’t have to be. The Bulldogs proved they could move the ball.

What happened next was the most important set of plays the entire night.

When Sweet Water punted to the ball back to R.A. Hubbard, the Chiefs ran three plays and lost three yards before being forced to punt.

After the game, head coach Stacy Luker talked about his defense and said he knew at halftime that the only reason his players were in a position to win was because of the defensive prowess shown by his Bulldogs and defensive coordinator Andro Williams.

While it seems petty to think that one offensive possession for R.A. Hubbard was the most critical part of the game, it’s hard to argue otherwise.

From the outset, Sweet Water proved that the Chiefs’ offensive line would not shove the Bulldogs’ defensive line around. On the contrary, that first R.A. Hubbard possession proved that Sweet Water would create a number of offensive problems for the No. 1-ranked team in the state.

At its most basic level, that first Chief got into the minds of the Chief players. They realized they were in a fight, and they didn’t respond. One look at the numbers indicates just that.

For the game, R.A. Hubbard only ran for 94 yards (Sweet Water ran for 332). Even worse, the Chiefs had just 25 yards passing.

For Sweet Water, it really wouldn’t have mattered what the offense did the third quarter. If a team can’t generate more than 119 yards of offense – as the Chiefs did Friday – then it’s hard to win at any level.

There were plenty of highlight-reel plays in Sweet Water’s 35-7 win over R.A. Hubbard. But the most crucial moment of last night’s game came when the Chiefs first touched the ball with 7:57 left in the first quarter. They kept the ball for less than two minutes and virtually handed off the state championship trophy at that point.