According to records listed on the Alabama High School Football Historical Society’s website, the Tigers have not started a season with two consecutive victories since 1989.
Ramsay, playing its first season of varsity football since 1976, struggled on both sides of the ball to start the game. The Rams punted on their first possession of the game. The punt sailed out of bounds, and the Tigers started their first drive of the game on Ramsay’s 37 yard line.
Talladega moved the ball down the field with strong running by junior Ahmad Gooden to set the Tigers up first-and-goal at the 2. Gooden rushed for another yard on first down and senior Branon Wilson took the ball across the goal line to give Talladega the early lead. Jackson Bailey’s point-after kick sailed through the up-rights to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead with 9 minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Ramsay struggled on its second possession of the game and a bad punt gave the Tigers the ball at the Rams’ 1 yard line. A delay of game penalty pushed Talladega back to the 6 yard line. A couple of running plays moved the Tigers back to the 1, but the offense fumbled the ball on the next play and Ramsay recovered the ball in the end zone to take away Talladega’s chance at scoring.
Talladega’s defense stepped up and denied Ramsay’s offense any yards on its next possession. Ramsay quarterback Brandon Lewis fumbled on third-and 20 and Talladega’s Kentavious Turner came up with the football in the end zone to extend the Tigers’ lead with 6:01 remaining in the opening period. Bailey’s point-after attempt was good to give Talladega a 14-0 lead.
Ramsay’s first points of the night came on a fumble by Talladega. Ramsay’s defenders recovered the ball in Talladega’s end zone for a safety with 3:42 remaining in the first quarter.
Talladega struck again with 2:05 to go before halftime. Junior quarterback Zack Spratlin connected with senior Justin Kelley for a 15-yard touchdown. Talladega had to make two attempts at the extra point because of a penalty, but Bailey’s kick was good to give the Tigers a 21-2 advantage at intermission.
Ramsay recovered the third quarter kickoff to take possession at the 50 yard line. That was the beginning of the Rams’ only touchdown drive of the night. Ramsay marched down the field, mixing the run and the pass. The Rams scored on a 24-yard pass from Lewis to Jalen Williams-Luke with 8:59 to go in the third period. Juan Vences’ extra-point attempt was blocked and Talladega led, 21-8.
The Tigers scored on their next three possessions to put the game out of reach. Spratlin found Wilson open in the middle of the field for a 61-yard touchdown to allow the Tigers to extend their lead. Bailey’s kick was good to give Talladega a 28-8 lead with 7:24 remaining in the third.
Wilson found the end zone again before the third quarter was complete. This time he scampered 19 yards for the touchdown. Bailey sent the ball through the up-rights again to give the Tigers a 35-8 lead.
Talladega head coach Chris Mahand was able to rest some of his starters in the fourth quarter, but the Tigers would score once more before calling it a night. Senior Carlos Turner carried the ball across the goal line from seven yards out to give Talladega six more points with 6:02 remaining in the game. Bailey’s final extra-point of the night was good to give Talladega its final margin of victory, 42-8.
Spratlin completed seven of 12 passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns. Kelley led the Tigers in receiving with four catches for 61 yards and a touchdown. Wilson also had one catch for 61 yards. Gooden led Talladega in rushing with 52 yards on six carries. Wilson rushed seven times for 37 yards and two touchdowns.
Mahand said he is pleased with the improvements his quarterback has made.
“He has the capability to be real good for us,” Mahand said of the junior. “We’re still in a learning process. We can’t get complacent.”
Williams-Luke led Ramsay in receiving with two catches for 42 yards and a touchdown.
While he is pleased with starting the season with a record of 2-0, Mahand said now is not the time to start celebrating.
“It definitely means a lot to the kids (being undefeated),” Mahand said. “But our goal is not to go 2-0. Our goal is to go 10-0.”
With the win, Talladega moves to 1-0 in region play. The Tigers travel to Birmingham to take on John Carroll next Friday. The loss drops Ramsay to 0-2 on the season and 0-1 in region play. The Rams travel to face region foe Sylacauga next week. Kickoff for both games will be at 7 p.m.