The JV Green Spartans hit the road to play their rivals to the east, the Memorial Mustangs, last Thursday night. Stratford received the opening kickoff and quickly marched down the gridiron, led by their talented backfield of QB Luke Tamez and running back tandem of Corbin Morris and Davis Kendall. Tamez found success in the quick passing game with several accurate throws to Morris and Kendall out of the slot and in the flat for big gains and yardage after the catch. Davis Kendall would cap off the drive with a 30-yard touchdown run as he turned the corner and left Mustang defenders in the dust. Spartans led 7-0.
Memorial countered with a solid drive of their own, chewing up 8 minutes of clock with a strong running game. Helped by a phantom pass interference call, the Mustangs slowly plodded their way down the field with several 4-5 yard gains and found the end zone. After a 2-point conversion, the Mustangs were up 8-7 after the first quarter.
Tamez stayed hot on the Spartans' next drive as he found junior wide receivers Tyler Fewell and Luke Fields for big receptions to keep the chains moving. Stratford could not convert on fourth down deep in Mustang territory though and would turn it over on downs. Memorial’s offense continued to have success with their ground game, but the Spartan defense would not give up big plays. Sophomore safety Cody Hanlen came up with a huge interception to stop the Mustangs inside the red zone, but the offense couldn’t take advantage as they would have to punt it away on their next possession. After being on the field for most of the first half, the Spartan defense would need to come up with one more big stop before halftime. The defensive line started to apply more pressure to the quarterback and cornerback Will Tacker was able to come up with an interception on a tipped pass to halt the Memorial drive and trail 8-7 at halftime.
The second half featured more tough defense, as Stratford’s defensive front made some adjustments to stop Memorial’s one-dimensional rushing attack. The defensive line of Juwann Taylor, Bradley Olivera, Lucas Thibodeaux, and Jackson Holz clogged the rushing lanes, while linebackers Sam Salas, Jax Blundell, and Dylan Ward mixed in some run blitzes to apply steady pressure to the Mustang backfield. Memorial's QB was rushed into making an errant throw that safety Eric Michaud intercepted for the third turnover of the game. The Spartan offense quickly capitalized as Luke Tamez found Corbin Morris over the middle for a 20-yard catch and run for a touchdown and a 14-8 lead.
The game remained tight in the fourth quarter as both defenses continued to play well. The Mustangs finally found some success in the passing game as they connected on a few 15-yard passes on critical third and fourth downs to keep their drive alive and eventually scored to tie the game at 14-14 after an unsuccessful 2-point conversion. On the Spartans' next possession, WR Tyler Fewell made an incredible one-handed grab over the middle for a first down in Mustang territory. QB Luke Tamez found himself scrambling all night, evading a persistent pass rush, but he continued to make plays with his legs and took care of the football to extend drives. After a couple of costly penalties though, the Spartans would turn it over on downs.
The Spartan defense stepped up as Sam Salas blocked a punt to give Stratford the ball deep in Memorial territory. Unfortunately, yards were tough to come by in the second half, and the Mustangs kept the Spartans off the scoreboard. An extremely hard-fought, competitive, and emotional game against some old friends, now foes, would end in a 14-14 tie.
The JV Green squad (5-3-1, 4-1-1 District) will look to solidify second place in the district next week as they take on Jersey Village at home on Thursday night.