As the year of Cullman county matchups continues tonight the Good Hope Raiders were able to take the lead late and put Vinemont away 34-22 to start their season 2-0.
Last week Vinemont’s Kayden Henderson took the opening kickoff 78 yards to the house, and Vinemont faithful didn’t get the same treat tonight. They had to wait for the first play of the game, where Brody Spear took the handoff 66 yards for a quick 6-0 lead. That lead quickly jumped to 8-0 after Spear ran in the 2-pt conversion.
After Good Hope’s offensive struggles last week head coach Alan Scott had this to say to his offense, “Keep doing the right things. We had too many mistakes, so we have to execute and take advantage of what the defense gives us.”
And that’s exactly what they did for a majority of the night. Good Hope used a balanced attack to score two quick touchdowns to take a 13-8 lead after K’mal Bell’s 10 yard touchdown run and a perfectly thrown jump ball by Colton Whatley to Tucker Malin for a 19 yard score.
Vinemont was able to drive deep into Raider territory on their third possession of the game but fumble the 4th and 2 from the 14 yard line, where Landon Bagwell recovered, giving Good Hope the ball again.
The balanced Raider attack again went to work, this time largely behind Kaleb Jones, who carried the ball 5 times on the possession for 46 yards. Eli Clements capped the drive off with a 6 yard touchdown plunge to give Good Hope a 20-8.
Vinemont responded by going to the hot hand, Spear, before Diego Rodriguez took off for a 46 yard touchdown run. After the Spear 2-pt conversion Vinemont pulled within four, 20-16. Neither team was able to score again as the score remained heading into the half.
Good Hope’s offense opened the second half with a 10 play drive that ended on the 6 1/2 yard line, about 1 foot too short of the first. Both teams traded punts until Vinemont’s Spear broke out for his second big run of the night, this time a 57 yard run that put the Eagles on top 22-20 after the failed 2-pt conversion.
Good Hope’s Jones continued gaining momentum after a big first half, but helping the Raider get down to the 2 yard line, where Whatley snuck it in. With Good Hope on top 28-22 Vinemont had another costly turnover at midfield on a crucial 3rd and 7, recovered this time by Good Hope’s Clements.
Clinging to a six point lead, needing a score to put the game away Good Hope used a variety of players to move the ball down to the 8 yard line, where Jones burst to the left side line, met by an Eagle defender. As the hit was delivered, Jones spun off, gathered himself before he went out of bounds, and ran it in to seal a 34-22 lead over another county opponent.
Jones had this to say on his 25 carry, 152 yard, 1 touchdown night, “We came into this game motivated, and I’m proud we kept our composure after some big plays. In the fourth quarter we saw they were tired and I just told our guys, ‘Let’s finish this. We trained all offseason for this.’”
Coach Scott echoed that composure, “You never want to give up big plays, but I’m proud of our guys for handling adversity and finding ways to make plays.”
Good Hope’s Whatley’s finished 11 for 15, 115 yards and a touchdown in the air and on the ground. Malin finished with 4 receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown and 15 yards on a late run. And Clements had a 5 carries for 25 yards and a touchdown that delivered key plays.
Vinemont’s Spears wrapped up a huge night with 21 carries for 189 yards, 2 touchdowns, and three 2-pt conversions. Eagles quarterback Aiden Thomason finished 7 of 13 for 95 yards.
The county matchups continue next week for Vinemont as they host West Point, who lost to Hanceville tonight. Meanwhile, Good Hope will host Cherokee County.