Bulldogs drop region opener 35-21
Joe Holmes, Enquirer Correspondent
It was a study in contrasts Friday night in Priceville. While the home standing Bulldogs’ methodical ball control offense posted three scores, East Limestone used big plays to rack up 35 points and hand Priceville its first loss.
The eighth-ranked Indians took the opening kickoff but could go nowhere as the swarming Bulldog defense forced a punt after three plays.
Priceville then promptly marched 58 yards on 12 plays using a mix of short-yardage pass completions and crafty misdirection. Quarterback Will Stevens hit fullback Will Halbrooks out of the backfield to give the home team a first-and-goal at the 1. The Bulldogs needed only one play from there as Stevens punched it in at the 5:22 mark of the first quarter. Lance Hughes toed the extra point to put the ‘Dogs up 7-0.
The Indians made a push deep into Priceville territory on their next possession, but outstanding defensive efforts by Jonathan Hopkins, Heath Parker, Lonnie Sutton and Jeremy Hale denied the visitors on four successive downs to put the Priceville offense back in business.
The Bulldogs stalled at midfield and East Limestone took the ball at its own 26. Chase Martin and Halbrooks turned in a key defensive stop on first-and-10, but on second down the Indians’ quarterback Chad Dewitt connected with speedy wideout LeGarrius Mayberry for a 49-yard touchdown pass. The extra point from Gil Johnson tied things up at 7-7 with 8:54 left in the half.
Priceville answered with another strong drive, marching 61 yards on 19 plays and eating up much of the remaining first half clock. Again the Bulldogs used a mix of pass and run, keeping the Indians’ defense guessing. Stevens picked up his second score of the evening on another 1-yard quarterback plunge. Hughes made it 14-7 with just 31 seconds left.
Priceville kicked off to the visitors, content to go into the prevent defense and take a seven-point lead into the break. The Indians had other plans.
With just three seconds left, the Indians flooded the field with receivers for an apparent Hail Mary attempt. Dewitt then took the snap and headed up field, dodging defenders en route to a 73-yard touch down run with zeroes on the clock. The extra point knotted the game at 14-14.
Running back Jonathon Pinque would make the next big play for the Indians, rambling 77 yards midway through the third quarter to put the visitors up 21-14.
Down but not out, Priceville used an interception by Lance Hughes to thwart the next Indian drive and give the home team an opportunity to get back in the game. Again it was Stevens punching the ball in from the 2-yard line to tie things up 21-21 with the third quarter drawing to a close.
Unfortunately that would be the final points Priceville could muster, while East Limestone posted two more late scores on a 3-yard run by Dewitt with 8:52 left in the game, and a 3-yard touchdown plunge by Pinque with just 1:34 remaining.
Stevens picked up three rushing touchdowns on the evening, gained 28 yards on seven carries and threw for 127 yards on 12-of-25 passing. Eli Allen picked up 67 yards on 12 carries and Trevor Maxwell added 53 yards on17 rushes.
Overall Priceville rushed for 166 yards and passed for 127. East Limestone answered with 310 yards on the ground and 159 through the air. Pinque was the Indians’ leading ground gainer with 169 yards and two touchdowns. Dewitt added 96 yards on the ground, 159 through the air.
Priceville hosts Columbia Friday night for its next Class 4A, Region 7 contest. East Limestone hosts DAR.