Less than a minute into Friday’s rivalry football game, Prattville made it clear Stanhope would need to put forth its best effort to end the Lions’ winning streak in the rivalry series. The Mustangs turned the ball over on the opening drive of the game which turned into seven points for Prattville, starting a 42-0 route of the Mustangs.
“They weren’t better than what we thought they would be,” Stanhope coach Brian Bradford said. “We knew they were good. We knew we needed to play really good to beat them but we did not play like we should have. We made tons of mental mistakes and that’s my fault. They capitalized on every single one of them.”
Four players after the turnover, Prattville opened the scoring with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Kramer to Kendrick Rogers. Stanhope was clearly in trouble early but the Mustangs still showed some fight in the first half.
The Mustangs turned to the rushing attack as Tray Duncan and Andrew Rines carried the offense across midfield. However, the 10-play drive stalled there as Duncan was caught behind the line of scrimmage on consecutive plays.
“The kids fought back and tried hard but we made some stupid alignment issues,” Bradford said. “We are normally better than that. We didn’t do what we were supposed to. We had too many missed assignments and didn’t do what we needed to do to keep ourselves in the ballgame.”
Prattville responded with a dominant 12-play, 90-yard scoring drive which included two third-down conversions of more than 10 yards. The Lions scored on third and goal from the 19 using a tight end screen for the second time on the drive.
“It’s very frustrating,” Bradford said. “We repped it, we repped it and then we just didn’t execute it like we should have. We got beat on alignment. We just didn’t play to the ball like we should. When things starting going bad, we lost our mental composure a little bit and it got worse.”
The Lions added one more score in the first half on a 55-yard touchdown catch from Rogers but Stanhope took a little bit of momentum into the locker room after the Mustangs stopped Prattville’s offense for the first time on the final drive of the half. However, that did not last long as the Lions needed just five plays in the second half before extending the lead to 28-0.
“It took the wind right out of us,” Bradford said. “We were hoping to get a stop there and put something together on offense to make it a game. 21-7 is a whole different atmosphere than 28-0 so that was a pivotal moment in the game. I think that was a backbreaker.”
The Mustangs did not gain a first down during three offensive drives in the third quarter. Prattville was starting to find holes in the rushing attack while Stanhope could not find any success through the air. Rines did not complete a pass for the Mustangs until midway through the fourth quarter.
“That was all on me being stubborn,” Bradford said. “I thought the formations we had gave us a numerical advantage but we just kept missing assignments. That was on me. I probably should have opened it up more than we did but I wanted to prove we could do what we planned on doing.”
Stanhope’s offense finished with just 84 yards and turned the ball over twice. Duncan rushed for 30 yards on 16 carries while Rines added 21 yards on the ground and a 39-yard completion to Conner Bradford.
The opposing sideline had a much better night offensively, racking up 477 yards. Kramer finished with more passing touchdowns than incompletions, going 16-for-19 with 283 yards and four touchdowns. Al’Terious Bates led the Lions with 118 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
“Hopefully it’s going to teach us that even though we are a pretty good defense, we’re going to have to start doing things better,” Bradford said. “We can’t just rely on being good, we have to start doing things better. It’s definitely a wake-up call. It’s not fun to get beat like that.”