Spanish Fort set the tone early in Friday night’s second round game at Wetumpka. After three and a half minutes of football, the Toros had forced two turnovers and held a 14-point lead before turning to their rushing attack to lead them to a 63-21 win. The victory sent Spanish Fort to the quarterfinals for the 12th straight year while Wetumpka finished its season with a 6-6 record.

“We just dug ourselves in a hole against a very good team and that’s hard to get out of,” Wetumpka coach Tim Perry said. “When you get to the playoffs, you can’t do that week in and week out.”

The Toros (7-4) had seen their season end at Hohenberg Field in each of the last two seasons and they used that as motivation all week.

“That was a lot of motivation for us,” Spanish Fort coach Ben Blackmon said. “We didn’t get it done here the last two years and a lot of kids saw their season end on this field. We challenged our kids all week to bring the edge and play for those who came before them.”

Wetumpka had no answer for Kris Abrams and the Toros on the ground. Spanish Fort finished with 523 rushing yards on 48 carries, averaging 10.9 yards per attempt. The Toros only called one passing play the entire game, which went for a 25-yard touchdown from Abrams to Travis McGowan.

“We’re a run-first team anyway,” Blackmon said. “We felt like had a really good offensive line and a good quarterback and running backs. We popped a couple of big runs early and we didn’t have to throw the ball so we didn’t.”

Abrams, who also had a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter, finished with 258 yards and four touchdowns on just 16 carries. His final carry went for a 43-yard touchdown run near the end of the third quarter to put the final nail in the coffin.

“You have one breakdown against an explosive athlete like that and he’s gone,” Perry said. “In practice, you can’t simulate that. We had a quarterback on the scout team that gave us a good look but it’s not just (Abrams), it’s the size of the offensive line and the running backs. It was a struggle.”

Wetumpka fell behind 28-0 before getting on the board for the first time. In his final high school game, quarterback Tyquan Rawls opened the scoring with a 1-yard touchdown run after completing big passes to Brandon Bowman and Malik Davis.

Rawls added another touchdown run in the first half but Wetumpka’s defense could not get a stop as Spanish Fort went into the break with a 42-14 lead. The Toros had five offensive drives in the first half, all ending in touchdowns.

“We always feel like we have guys that can make plays and they did that tonight,” Perry said. “We just dug ourselves in too big of a hole. They bounced back like we thought they would and answered the bell but we had trouble containing a very good athlete.”

Rawls kept fighting as he saw time on both sides of the ball. He tackled Abrams in the open field to force the Toros to punt for the first time on the opening possession of the second half.

Rawls marched the offense down field and added another 5-yard touchdown run to cut into the lead but it would be the final points of the night for Wetumpka. Rawls finished with 147 yards and three touchdowns on the ground while completing nine of his 16 pass attempts for 144 yards.

“He’s such a warrior and a champion,” Perry said. “He loves challenges and he will never back down from it. He wants the ball when the competition is at its fiercest. We hate to see him go but he’s had a tremendous impact on Wetumpka football.”

Wetumpka falls short of the state semifinals for the first time since 2016. Meanwhile, Spanish Fort will return home to host Park Crossing as the Toros search for their first semifinal appearance since 2015.

“Time to go back home and get ready,” Blackmon said. “We’re 0-0 again. We’re just thankful we have another week of football.”

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.