Cedar Bluff scored on passes covering 75 yards and 36 yards in first quarter for a 14-0 lead. In the second quarter, a 26-yard run and a 51-yard run made it 28-0 with 5:05 remaining before halftime.
Will Ivey, moved from quarterback to tailback during the game, scored the first touchdown for Spring Garden on a 55-yard run and cut the deficit to 28-6 with 2:13 left in the second quarter but Cedar Bluff returned the ensuing kickoff 60 yards for a 35-6 halftime lead.
Cedar Bluff scored four touchdowns in the second half before Kyle Reece added a 5-yard scoring run for the Panthers and Andrew McLarty kicked the extra point to set the final score.
Spring Garden was hampered when Matt Mullinax was lost to a knee injury on the first play of the Panthers’ second possession, early in the first quarter. Mullinax ran for 13 yards on four carries in his limited time on the field.
“We moved Will (Ivey) to tailback and I think Ben (Ivey) came in and played okay at quarterback, getting thrown into that position,” Spring Garden coach Jason Howard said.
Another positive for the Panthers was the return of McLarty, out all season rehabilitating an injury, even on a limited basis. Howard said McLarty had been able to work on kicking in practice prior to being released for contact by his doctor.
Will Ivey finished the game with 154 yards rushing on 21 carries. Reece ran 21 times for 127 yards. Quintin Downey gained 16 yards on five runs and Ben Ivey netted 10 yards on four carries.
On defense, Downey, McLarty and Kris Holcomb each made four tackles. Ben Ivey had three tackles. Dalton Kerr and Will Ivey recorded two tackles each.
The Panthers finished region play 3-5 and fell to 3-6 overall. Spring Garden’s final game will be at home Friday against visiting Talladega County Central (4-5).
Howard called the Tigers “probably the most athletic team we’ve played so far.”
“They run the option,” he said. “They’ll get in the pistol and run the option, get in the ‘I’ and run the option and they’ll be spread some and run the zone stuff, too.”
Howard said his team’s challenge this week will be players having to play in unfamiliar roles.
“We’re more interested in getting ourselves ready than all that,” Howard said. “We’ve got to shift some people with Matt going down.”