By Wil Crews
The Glenwood Gators’ bid at a perfect season came to an agonizing end on Friday as they fell in the AISA Class AAA State Championship game, 38-21, to the Pike Liberal Arts Academy Patriots inside Cramton Bowl in Montgomery.
Since their first game in September, Glenwood has looked a cut above its opponents and destined for a state title. Their dominance included an early season 26-7 win over Pike. However, on Friday, the Gators were held to a season-low in points and lost their first game of the season – in the biggest game of the season.
The game was a shootout through two quarters, with the two teams heading to halftime tied 21-21. The Gators would be shut out in second half, and Pike quarterback Mayes White would lead his team to a convincing win.
The Gators offense looked like their normally potent selves to begin the game. Running back Kyle Robichaux put the Gators in scoring position with a 36-yard run, and quarterback Jackson Griner found receiver Rodanda Beauchamp for a 5-yard touchdown pass. The Gator defense quickly forced a punt to give the ball back to Glenwood, but Pike scored its first touchdown on a 40-yard pick six. The interception didn’t seem to affect Griner as he found Beauchamp again on the next drive – this time for a 59-yard touchdown pass. Pike answered on its next drive with a 13-yard rushing touchdown from White to tie the game at 14 with nine minutes to go in the half. Robichaux got his first touchdown of the night – and the final of his impressive season – with just under six minutes left in the second quarter on a 19-yard rushing touchdown.
From there, the Pike defense would shut out the Gators, and the Patriot offense would do enough to clinch the title. Pike tied the game just before half, after White led the Patriots down the field before finding his receiver for a 14-yard touchdown pass.
The third quarter was a defensive chess match before White undid the Gator defense with a crushing 94-yard touchdown run. Griner was then picked early in the fourth quarter before White led a resilient Pike drive that ended in an 8-yard rushing touchdown for the Patriot quarterback. Pike extended its lead to 35-21 and left Glenwood searching for a miracle.
The miracle would never come as Griner was intercepted again on the ensuing drive to effectively end Glenwood’s title aspirations. The Patriots added a 20-yard field goal that would round out the scoring. In total desperation, Griner threw a risky pass on the next Glenwood possession and was intercepted for the third time on the night with just over a minute remaining.
Glenwood’s 2020 season ended in disappointing fashion, with the Gators losing in the championship for the second consecutive season, but nothing can overshadow their dominant run to the title game. Even with the loss, the Gators outscored their 11 opponents 457 to 160. It was still a wildly successful season for Glenwood, who captured their first region title and first season with double digit wins since 2001. Pike, who’s only lost to Glenwood in the regular season, won its first championship since going back-to-back in 2008 and 2009.