Alabama Christian football's Jalen Clark has 7 total TDs in playoff win vs West Blocton

Nick Alvarez
Montgomery Advertiser

Jalen Clark took two steps back, flicked his wrist and shook his head. Alabama Christian's sideline cheered and its quarterback sprinted into the end zone to celebrate his fourth touchdown of the half. 

As Clark side-shuffled across the goal line, he tapped his wrist. "It's time," he repeated over and over.  

The Eagles had been waiting all season to feature Clark "to the max," ACA coach Nate Sanford said. Friday night was the senior's best performance. Seven total touchdowns and 413 all-purpose yards helped ACA cruise past West Blocton, 56-14, in the first round of the Class 4A Alabama High School Athletic Association playoffs.

Clark was 10-of-12 passing for 307 yards and five touchdowns and ran eight times for 106 yards and two touchdowns.

The Eagles (9-2) had monitored Clark's workload in the weeks leading up to the game, Sanford said. They let him loose on Friday night and the blowout followed. 

Alabama Christian entered the season with high expectations. Clark and a defense led by Miller McCarthy (who had an interception in the second quarter) went undefeated in region games.

After a non-region loss to Trinity, ACA produced its longest winning streak in school history (eight). The Eagles refined their winning formula: Control time of possession with Clark and the running game, let the defense profit off mistakes. They averaged just one punt a game. 

West Blocton (6-5) was similarly built. The Wildcats triple-option offense was designed to shorten contests and break down opposing defenses. They spent the last week of practice on team tackling and pursuit drills, anything to devise a way to stop Clark. 

But it was apparent early that Clark wouldn't be contained. He launched a 40-yard touchdown pass off his back foot on ACA's first possession. A few snaps later he handed it off to Otasowie Dion for another score after Clark ran the ball to the red zone. Then, following a West Blocton turnover, Clark threw for another. 

The Eagles' first 10 offensive plays netted 21 points. They led 21-8 with West Blocton's first points coming off a backward pass that was scooped up and scored.

“We knew we were going to score some points," Sanford said. "My biggest concern was that offense.” 

The Tigers run game sputtered. McCarthy and other red jerseys crowded the line of scrimmage and stuffed dives. Other than a few jet sweeps that earned first downs, West Blocton's running game mostly failed against ACA's front seven. Already trailing by multiple scores in the second quarter, West Blocton's first pass attempt was intercepted. 

Clark didn't relent. Before a third-and-goal, a West Blocton fan yelled over to the defense as it lined up. "Stop that quarterback now," he grumbled. The fan walked away from his seat when Clark bulldozed in from the 2 seconds later. 

The second half featured more of the same. Clark added another score. The Tigers recorded their first offensive touchdown with a 2-yard dive in the third quarter. A long West Blocton touchdown was called back due to holding. Friday

Alabama Christian will host Jacksonville on Nov. 13. 

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