By Wil Crews

After a 9-4 season in 2019, one that saw Glenwood reach the third round of the regional playoffs, the Gators opened their 2020 campaign at home against the Bessemer Academy Rebels with a 37-25 win.

The game was a story of two opposing offensive philosophies. The Gators ran the ball with ferocity, finishing with a whopping 418 yards on the ground. On the other hand, the Rebels’ preference for progress was a passing onslaught – totaling 272 yards through the air.

Glenwood won the first coin toss of the season and boldly opted to receive the ball. The striking decision paid off as quarterback Jackson Griner handed the ball to running back Tye Robichaux as he scampered into the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown. An ideal start, the Gators led 7-0.

On the Gators first defensive showing of 2020, the defense had two tackles for loss, stifling the run and forcing a three and out. The game score remained the same until late in the first quarter when the Rebels scored – but missed the extra point – to make it 6-7 Gators.

The second quarter was all Gators as the home team added a field goal and two more scores on the ground. The Rebels finally found some rhythm on offense and responded with 33 seconds left in the second quarter. Glenwood took a 23-12 lead into half time.

The second half opened with a lengthy drive from the Rebels that began at their own 38-yard line. The drive was thwarted on the Gators seven yard line as Glenwood forced turnover on downs, busting into the backfield, gang tackling the Rebel runner for a two-yard loss. However, the Rebels still managed to strike first in the third quarter with a 33-yard touchdown run. The Rebels attempted the two-point conversion – but failed. The Gators offense then kicked back into stride, responding with a big run of their own. An explosive 44-yard dash put Glenwood ahead 30-18.

From there, the Gators barrel rolled to the finished. The game was all but locked up the with another rushing score, stretching the lead to 19 as Glenwood powered ahead, 37-18. The Rebels scored once more late in the fourth quarter for what can only be chalked up as a moral victory. The game ended with two knee downs by Griner as the Gators chewed up nearly seven minutes of clock on their final drive. Final score: Glenwood 37, Bessemer 25.

Griner was undoubtedly the player of the game, finishing with 243 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 16 carries. The Gators were committed to the run throughout the game, throwing only 10 times, completing two for 11 yards. Robichaux added to the rushing total, finishing with 176 yards and one touchdowns on 20 carries.

Both teams finished with two turnovers but Glenwood head coach Jason Gibson will hope to see more discipline from his team next week. The Gators had 14 penalties for 91 yards, but were solid enough on both sides of the ball to nullify the consequences.

Next week, Glenwood travels to Atmore, Alabama to take on last years’ Regional Champions, the Escambia Cougars. Both teams enter the game 1-0. The Gators will hope for better fortunes in this year’s matchup, as the teams last meeting in 2015 was a 41-0 blowout win for Escambia. Kickoff is set for Friday, Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. CST at 268 Cowpen Creek Road, Atmore, Al, 36502.