SPORTS >> Malvern stuns Sylvan Hills
Leader sports writer
Penalties and turnovers didn’t do much to help Sylvan Hills’ cause. But the miscues paled in comparison to the damage Malvern tailback Dontail Henson did to the Bears.
The junior had 24 carries for 93 yards and three touchdowns, as the Leopards routed the Bears 31-7 on Friday night at Bill Blackwood Field.
Henson scored twice in the first quarter and tacked on the Leopards’ final touchdown at with 8:20 left in the third quarter.
While Sylvan Hills struggled to contain Henson, the offense struggled as well, gaining only 108 total yards, 20 of them rushing.
Malvern had its share of playmakers in both its offensive and defensive backfields, but the most damage was done at the line.
Henson had huge holes to run through on the offensive side, while Sylvan Hills senior quarterback Jordan Spears had a hand in his face on almost every pass play.
Bears coach Jim Withrow summed up his feelings with one word.
“Stunned, stunned, stunned,” Withrow said. “We didn’t compete. We were out-played, out-classed and out-coached. That’s as bad a job as I’ve seen in 18 years. They came and hit us in the mouth, and we didn’t want any part of it. That’s the bottom line. We weren’t ready to play, and that’s my fault. And that’s it. There’s not a whole lot to it.”
The Bears did not have many penalties, but the ones they committed came at the worst times. None of the flags were as devastating, however, as a roughing the kicker call against the Sylvan Hills special teams as Malvern’s Alfonzo Torres tried to get off a punt with 51 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Bears had just scored what turned out to be their only touchdown moments before on a 9-yard pass from Spears to senior receiver Ahmad Scott, and a defensive stop at the Malvern 13 gave them a chance at good field position and to pull to within two scores.
“We’re not ready to play; we’re thinking about other things,” Withrow said. “And that stops at my door step — that’s my responsibility. It was mental errors that cost us.”
Malvern grabbed momentum on the Bears’ second play of the game when the Leopards forced a fumble and recovered. Sylvan Hills stopped that drive, but was pinned deep at its 6 after a 35-yard punt.
That began a battle of field position for the Bears, a battle they lost decisively in the first half.
“It doesn’t make the season, but it’s awfully nice to get off to this kind of start,” Malvern coach John Fogleman said. “We’ve had a long off-season after a tough loss that ended our year last season in the playoffs, and we were happy to get back on the field and play.”
The Bears made a statement at the end of the first half with a goal line stand that forced Malvern to settle for a field goal.
Quarterback David Traylor tried to sneak across the goal line on fourth-and-1, but Bear defenders Alex Smith and Nick Brewer dragged him down at the 10-yard line.
The Leopards responded in the first minute of the second half with a 52-yard touchdown pass from Traylor to James King to put Malvern up 24-0. Malvern defensive back Marlo Jamerson then picked off a Spears pass at the Leopard 40 and returned it to the Sylvan Hills 27 to set up Henson for a final touchdown run.
Despite the constant harassment by the Malvern defense, Spears was able to lead the Bears on a 68-yard, 14-play drive.
Spears hit senior Taylor Clark on a pair of critical passes for 19 and 17 yards to move the ball into Leopard territory, and found Scott just inside the on the left sideline with 2:52 left. Anwi Filat added the extra point to make it 31-7.
Spears was 10 of 24 for 88 yards with a touchdown and one interception. Clark had three receptions for 52 yards, all of which came in the second half.
For Malvern, Traylor went 9 of 11 for 146 yards, a touchdown and one interception. The Leopards had 316 yards of total offense.
Defensively, Marquis Smith and Alex Smith led the Bears with seven tackles each.