Wildcats run wild over ‘Dogs

Published 1:50 am Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Florala Wildcats exploded offensively for eight touchdowns as they picked up their first win of the season, 54-26, over Kinston Friday night.

Florala (1-3, 1-2 in Class 1A, Region 2) also picked up the first career win for first-year head coach Stan Gooden, a former assistant coach with the Andalusia Bulldogs. With 40 seconds remaining, Gooden’s players surprised their leader with a dousing shower of ice water.

“I figured it may be coming from somewhere, but I didn’t see it coming right then,” said a wet Gooden with a smile following the game. “They caught me. I’m proud of them; it’s their first win and hopefully we can get a few more down the road.”

In addition to putting up 54 points on offense, Florala also put up 565 yards of total offense — 192 passing yards and 373 rushing yards. Florala sophomore quarterback Zach Fleming finished 6 of 10 passing for 192 yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing for 67 yards on eight carries. Florala junior running back Quarve Troublefield carried 11 times for 164 yards and three touchdowns and Jorian Avan had seven carries for 57 yards and two touchdowns.

Kinston (0-4, 0-3), which finished with 324 rushing yards of its own, was led offensively by Taylor Davis’s 177 yards and three touchdowns.

“We knew coming into this game that tackling might be a bit of a problem,” Gooden said. “(Kinston) has some big backs and we’re having trouble stopping people on defense right now.

“We have to play a lot of young guys on defense, but they’re getting better,” he added.

Florala fell behind 6-0 early before responding with 26 unanswered points on the way to a 33-14 halftime lead. The Wildcats never trailed by less than 18, the rest of the way.

It only took the Wildcats one offensive play to get on the scoreboard, when Fleming pitched the ball to Troublefield, who took it down the right side for a 67-yard touchdown with 5:06 remaining in the first quarter.

After Kinston missed a 28-yard field goal, the Wildcats took over early in the second quarter as Lavoris Ball broke free for a 66-yard gain. Two plays later, Avan scored on an 8-yard run to give Florala its first lead, 12-6.

Troublefield added two more rushing touchdowns, of 59 and 3 yards, as Florala increased its lead to 26-6 with 1:43 left in the second quarter. After Kinston scored with 1:02 left in the first half, the Wildcats responded with a scoring drive of their own, capping off their drive when Fleming hit Dustin Hinson for a 32-yard touchdown.

“The offense really kept us in the ball game and got first downs and put a lot of points on the board,” Gooden said. “It’s fun to watch.”

Florala added three more touchdowns in the second half. Fleming connected with Shane Taunton for a 68-yard touchdown with 7:20 left in the third quarter. Taunton, who also kicks extra points for the Wildcats, finished with four catches for 137 yards.

Avan added an 8-yard touchdown run with 5:02 left in the third quarter and Fleming paired up with Hinson again on a 23-yard touchdown pass just nine seconds into the fourth quarter.

“(Fleming) is just a 10th grader and he’s going to get better every week,” Gooden said of his young quarterback. “He’s starting to learn and do the things the way we want him to do, and he’s not going to do anything but keep getting better.”

Florala will host Red Level next Friday in a non-region game.

“We’ve got to be ready to get back to work,” Gooden said. “(Red Level) is a big rivalry game and it’s going to be here, so we’ve got to do a lot of tackling drills this week to get ready for that game.”