Decatur needed a spark for the second half of its homecoming game against Sparkman.
The Red Raiders’ defense, a ground game led by tailback Josh Matthews and Mother Nature combined to provide it Friday night at Ogle Stadium.
Matthews had 15 carries for 172 yards with touchdown runs of 30 and 69 yards, defensive back Terry Green had two of the defense’s three interceptions and a brisk wind helped provide some good field position in the third quarter of a 24-7 Class 6A, Region 8 win.
Decatur (5-3 overall, 3-3) trailed Sparkman (1-7, 1-5) at halftime 7-3.
“We talked about finishing the game,” Matthews said of halftime adjustments. “We didn’t come out as high as we needed to be. We came back out and executed.”
According to Green, the halftime message was simple.
“Come out and dominate,” he said after collecting his first career interceptions.
A virtually non-existent wind in the first half began to blow from east to west between halves. Decatur, with its back to the breeze, took advantage.
Sparkman set up at its 20-yard line to start the third quarter. An attempt on fourth-and-1 was called off after a procedure penalty. A motion flag moved the Senators back five more yards to the 19, followed by an 18-yard punt to the 38.
On fourth-and-2, Matthews raced 30 yards to the end zone. Joseph Douthit added the extra point, and the Red Raiders were ahead for good at 10-7 with 7:35 left in the quarter.
Green followed with his first pick three players later to give Decatur possession at the Senators’ 39.
Two plays later, Carlos Carbajal scored from the 30, and Douthit’s kick made it 17-7.
“We had to dig down a little deeper,” Red Raiders coach Jere Adcock said. “We played the first half like we practiced Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. We told them to reap all that work and conditioning going back to the summer.”
Sparkman threatened to tighten the score in the fourth quarter. But Miller Maztek’s 30-yard field goal attempt went wide right, and two plays later Matthews went off left tackle for 69 yards and the touchdown.
Douthit's extra point made it 24-7 with 5:16 left in the game.
“I don’t know what happened,” Sparkman back Lorenzo James said. “Everything just fell apart in the second half.”
Sparkman threatened first on the game’s second possession, but Decatur blocked a 47-yard field-goal attempt.
The Red Raiders went ahead 3-0 on the following possession behind Douthit’s 45-yard field goal at Sparkman punted, but the Senators got a break when the catch was fumbled and James recovered to give them possession at the Red Raiders’ 7.
Three plays later, quarterback Jordan Jordan tossed a 6-yard touchdown pass to DeVon Johnson. Matzek’s extra point made it 7-3 with 6.1 seconds left in the first period.
The Red Raiders completed just 2-of-10 passes with one interception for 13 yards, but had 260 yards on 36 rushes.
Victor Mitchell also had an interception for Decatur, which held Sparkman to 81 yards passing and 121 rushing.
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