With the season on the line and his two best weapons unavailable, Hamp Sisson put Mountain Brook on his back and looked every bit the part of a cool, calm senior quarterback.
Sisson converted three third-downs on the game’s final drive as the No. 10-ranked Spartans ran out the clock for a 23-22 win over No. 8 Bob Jones in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs tonight in Madison.
Mountain Brook got the ball its own 35-yard line with 4:51 left in the game. The Spartans found themselves without four-star running back Harold Joiner and backfield mate A.J. Gates, who were both sidelines after suffering injuries.
Sisson ran for eight yards on third-and-6 from the 39, found Clay Stearns for a 21-yard gain on third-and-12 from the Spartans 45 and carried for four yards on third-and-3 at the Bob Jones 27.
“We had a corner route with Clay and Tye (Pouncey),” Sisson said. “The one receiver ran off the corner and no one followed Clay. The No. 2 defender was down, so I hit Clay. He had a great catch and that really iced it for us.”
Mountain Brook coach Chris Yeager had no worries about putting the game in Sisson’s hands.
“Harold went down. A.J. went down. (Sisson) just picked up the slack,” Yeager said. “He’s all guts and backbone. He played like a man; a heck of a game.”
Prior to the clinching drive, Bob Jones moved to the Mountain Brook 2 with less than six minutes left in the game, but had to settle for a Jacob Fruehwald 25-yard field goal. After reaching the 2, Bob Jones ran for no gain, threw an incomplete pass, got called for a false start and completed a pass for no gain.
Mountain Brook (8-3) won its first playoff game since edging Bob Jones 14-13 in 2012 and advances to play No. 2 Thompson. The Warriors won 40-13 during the regular season.
Bob Jones lost in the first round for the fourth consecutive year and finished 7-4.
Game ball: Sisson completed 9 of 15 passes for 136 yards, and he ran for 61 yards on 15 attempts. Sisson was involved in 10 of Mountain Brook’s 13 first downs.
“It definitely wasn’t me; it was the line,” Sisson said. “They did a great job all night; gave me protection when I was throwing and gave a push up front when we were running the ball. They did an excellent job, every single one of them.”
Play of the game: Gates scored what proved to be the winning touchdown with 3:57 left in the third quarter. Mountain Brook got the ball at its own 20, and on the first play, Gates bolted around the left end, raced down the sideline and made a cut inside the 10 to beat the last defender.
Mountain Brook stat sheet: Gates finished with 112 yards on nine carries, the last of which was his 80-yarder. He scored on a 4-yard run in the second quarter. Joiner had nine yards on three attempts and two catches for 21 yards. His last touch came on the Spartans’ opening possession of the second half. Aidan Hood kicked a 39-yard field goal just before halftime as the Spartans went into the break tailing 12-10. Hamp Greene caught three passes for 53 yards. Stearns had two receptions for 33 yards. Collin Bussman picked off a 2-point pass.
Bob Jones stat sheet: Caden Rose completed 21 of 29 passes for 258 yards, and he ran for 65 yards on 15 carries. Khalil Griffin, a starting linebacker who typically does not play offense, scored on a pair of 3-yard runs. Demontrez Brown caught nine passes for 107 yards. Fruehwald’s other field goals covered 25 and 29 yards. Jamaury Evans broke up a fake field goal pass in the end zone.
By the numbers: 378 – Yards of offense for Bob Jones to Mountain Brook’s 315; 3 – Fumbles by the Patriots, one of which was lost on a kickoff return; 19 – Number of plays on a Bob Jones drive that went 69 yards in the second quarter and resulted in a Griffin TD run; 55 – Yards covered on the Patriots’ longest play, a Rose pass to Jaydon Hill.
Coachspeak: “I told our guys at halftime, ‘Bob Jones hasn’t been in the fourth quarter in a month.’ They were up at halftime against Buckhorn. The two weeks before, the game was over at halftime. Then, last week, they didn’t play. We’ve had nothing but fourth-quarter (games); just a meat grinder. That’s what we have faced. Every game we’ve been in has been exactly like this. This is our element right here. ” — Yeager
“We’re going to enjoy this one. It’s another week to get to play football. I’d play the Chicago Bears or the Green Bay Packers for another week to get to play football. I’d play play them on the moon. I’d play them in Iraq. I don’t care. We’re playing down there. It’s just another week to get to do the great game of football. That’s what it’s all about.” — Yeager on facing Thompson
“I don’t know. Our medical team dealt with them. They’re very conservative and they take care of those guys for the long haul. I know that they had in mind for playing another week and so we’ll go from there.” — Yeager on the status of Joiner and Gates
“I thought our entire team played well. You’re one play from victory and we just didn’t get it done and they did; our hat’s off to them.” — Bob Jones coach Kevin Rose
“I’m proud of all of them. We had a team full of guys who, at 0-2, could have gone the other way on us and didn’t. We’ve had an excellent season.” — Kevin Rose.