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American Christian wins big against Sipsey Valley 24-8


Cole Campbell (27) runs through tackle attempts by the Sipsey Valley defense in a game against Sipsey Valley High School held at ACA on Friday, Oct. 25, 2013. (Photo by Erin Nelson | The Tuscaloosa News)


The American Christian Academy Patriots knocked the Sipsey Valley Bears out of playoff contention in a key Class 3A Region 3 game Friday, winning 24-8 at home.

The Patriots were more than a match for the Bears, who were without key contributors on the offensive line and at running back.

The Patriots scored first, using a powerful running game to set up a 4-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Austin Mohlenbrok to junior running back J.T. Hyche. The Patriots continued to use the same formula all night, gashing the Bears' defense for over 400 total yards.

Regardless, Sipsey Valley responded, as senior quarterback Garret Lewis hit sophomore wide receiver Jamarius Leatherwood in stride for a 61-yard touchdown. After the Bears pulled off a trick play to score the two-point conversion, Sipsey Valley led 8-7. It would be the Bears' last lead of the game.

From there, the Patriots took control, rounding out the half with a 39-yard field goal from Conner Thigpen. Mohlenbrok threw another touchdown pass in the third quarter, connecting with junior wide receiver Carter McGill for a 51-yard touchdown score.

Senior running back Austen Akins rounded out the scoring with a 1-yard touchdown run to put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter.

The Bears continued to fight even in the late in the fourth quarter. The defense turned in a goal-line stand at the 1-yard line, while the offense had two drives stall deep in ACA territory.

Sipsey Valley coach Antonio Ford lauded his team on its tenacity. With his team's playoff chances eliminated, Ford only had one message for his players in next week's matchup against Hale County.

"Finish like champions," Ford said. "Come out, and play as hard as you can, and just give it your best effort."

Patriots coach John Causey cited Sipsey Valley players such as Leatherwood and Lewis, who were constant threats to his team's defense. The Patriots' defense played more than capably, keeping Lewis scrambling all night and holding the otherwise-explosive wide receivers in check.

"We got a lot of guys doing a lot of good things," Causey said. "…We're starting to gel, we're starting to peak at the right time."

One player who appeared to play at peak performance was Mohlenbrok, who left the Sipsey defense trailing clutching at air all night. Mohlenbrok said he and his team had already moved past their performance and were focusing on Central next week to close out the regular season.

"We want to be the best," Mohlenbrok said. "We're a great team. We've just got to keep moving forward."