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Photos by Ted Melton.
Joey Beatty sets up to pass for Spain Park.
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Larry Wooden heads for the end zone for the Jags.
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Joey Beatty loads up for a big throw.
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Larry Wooden races downfield for the Jags.
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Wade Streeter dives over a pile of players.
DECATUR -- Despite a strong performance by a pair of fleet-footed running backs, a powerful offensive line and a courageous quarterback, the Spain Park Jaguars suffered a heartbreaking season-opening loss to the Austin Black Bears on Friday night at Decatur’s Ogle Stadium. Austin secured the 38-35 victory on kicker Ivan Torres’ 18-yard field goal in triple overtime.
“I thought both teams played their tails off, that’s all you can ask,” Spain Park coach Shawn Raney said. “We just got to become better football players and do what we’re supposed to do, but I’m proud of them.”
In the loss, Jags’ senior Joey Beatty made a sensational debut in his first career start under center, throwing for nearly 250 yards and two touchdowns. After totaling less than 40 passing yards on just six pass attempts in the first half, Beatty unleashed an impressive post-halftime performance. In the third quarter, he demonstrated quick decision-making, connecting with running back Larry Wooden on a short screen pass that turned into a momentous 75-yard touchdown. On the next possession, he then showcased his arm strength and precision, hitting junior wide receiver Thomas Jordan on a pinpoint 39-yard, play-action touchdown pass across the middle.
“He’s not going to make many mistakes, and he’ll come up with some plays for us,” Raney said. “I think he’ll continue to get better because he’s a good worker and a good kid.”
Wooden supplemented his receiving touchdown with a pair of rushing touchdowns, relying on his blend of speed, agility and strength to dodge, juke, and bulldoze countless would-be tacklers.
Spain Park trailed Austin 14-7 at the half, but continually battled back through the third and fourth quarters, tying the game at 28-28 with less than 10 minutes to play.
A series of scoreless drives by each team in the waning minutes pushed the game to overtime.
After a key defensive stop in the first overtime period, Austin had an ideal opportunity to seal the victory, but Torres pushed a 20-yard field goal attempt wide right, reviving Spain Park’s hopes.
The two teams then traded touchdowns in the second overtime period. Austin running back Asa Martin, who accounted for all five of his team’s touchdowns, punched the ball into the end zone on the first play from scrimmage. Spain Park’s Wade Streeter quickly answered with a 10-yard score of his own.
In the third overtime period, Austin blocked the 23-yard field goal attempt by Jags’ kicker Crosby Gray,opening up the door for Torres’ redemptive boot.
“Coming out of camp, you don’t know exactly where you’re at, so now we’ve got some stuff to build on, and we’ll get better,” Raney said.